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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 18, 2013 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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part of that is governors were able to put forward holistic plans that make sense and to make radical change. in washington, d.c. we've sort of had this gridlock where good ideas get put forward, and they go to the senate to die, or the president can veto them. it's difficult for the republicans with obama as president and the democrats in the senate to even get votes on good ideas. in other words, we're now finally getting the democrats in the senate to write a budget which for 1418 days, four years, they never wrote a budget. how do you campaign against democrats in the senate if they don't even write down what they're for? so there are differences in how you structure. i think there's a lot to be learned from republican successes with governors like walker in wisconsin who made dramatic changes on the cost of government, government-run pensions, the unionized government work force and bobby jindal with school choice.
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he's planning this year to abolish the corporate and individual income tax, moving in a very different direction than the national democrats want to and winning elections with that approach. so there's a lot to be learned both by the failure of the romney campaign and the senate races and the successes the republicans have had at the state level. >> host: and we're taking your calls in this segment with grover norquist with americans for tax reform. the phone lines are open. democrats, 202-585-3880. republicans, 202-585-3881. independents, 202-585-3882. grover norquist known as an expert on some of these budget issues. you bring up the senate budget that we saw from budget chairwoman patty murray last week with. talk about that and how you think it compares to paul ryan's budget. >> guest: there are two major differences. they certainly go in different directions. the paul ryan budget balances in ten years and does not raise taxes. patty murray's budget never
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balances and raises taxes $1.5 trillion over the next decade. so what the democrats and patty murray are saying in addition to the $600 billion tax increase that obama won in january and the trillion dollars of obamacare tax increases that most americans are unaware of, they don't know that they're hitting, they haven't gotten a lot of press attention, obama never talks about the trillion dollars of tax increases starting this year for obamacare. so 1.6 plus 1.5, that's a $3 trillion dollar tax increase over the next decade if the democratic budget passed. and, of course, it never balances because they turn around and spend another, um, more money, hundreds of billions more on stimulus programs as well as other stuff. so they do more spending with more taxes. what the ryan budget does and why i think it's very interesting for the republican future is that it reforms entitlements protecting
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everybody over 55 from any changes, but makes changes so that younger people will still have these programs, takes all the welfare programs -- there are 185 different welfare programs -- and it block grants the largest, most expensive ones just as bill clinton did with aid to families with dependent children. so you have this reform of entitlements, reform of the various welfare programs and tax reform taking the top rate on individuals to 25%, the bottom rate to 10%. so you have two rates, 10 and 25. now we go from 10 up to 44 these days. and the corporate rate, which is 35% right now, the average in europe is 25. so when we compete internationally, we've hobbled ourselves because we tax our companies, our manufacturing companies more harshly than they do theirs. he wants to take that rate to 25 so it's close, so it's at the european average.
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now, i'd rather be better than europe. the canadians are about 17%. i prefer the canadian rate than the european average. so the republicans and democrats in their two budgets really show who they are. now, there's also a third budget which is the progressive budget which is the more liberal democrats, and they do massive new taxes on top of the ones i discussed plus massive new spending. so you have a sense of there's some democrats who want to go even further into big government than patty murray and president obama. >> host: americans for tax reform probably best known for the taxpayer protection pledge. here's that pledge right here: i, blank, pledge to the taxpayers of plank district of the state of blank and to the american people that i will, one, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses and, two, oppose any net reduction or elimination of
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deductions and credits unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates. that's the pledge that americans for tax reform asked all state and federal candidates to sign. the perhaps more confusing part of that is where this idea of closing a tax loophole comes in and how that fits into your pledge. closing loopholes is something that paul ryan has proposed some of in his budget. >> guest: oh, certainly. and completely consistent with the pledge. you can summarize the pledge by saying no net tax increase. but it spells it out because when the pledge came forward, i worked it out with president reagan endorsed it in '86 as well, campaign for candidates who took the pledge, this was part of passing the tax reform act of '86. americans for tax reform was set up to make sure that that happened. and the best way to protect the tax reform was to make sure it could never be turned into a trojan horse for a tax increase.
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so about 100 republican congressmen and 20 senators signed this pledge saying in this tax reform, in future tax reforms we're never going to allow tax reform to hide a tax increase. and periodically politicians say i'm for tax reform. well, what they mean is they want to raise taxes. there are two ways to raise the income tax; raise the rates or broaden the pace without bringing the rates down. and the pledge says, hey, no raising the rates. and, two, if you want to get rid of deductions and credits, that's great. but bring the rates down dollar for dollar. that's what ryan does. the ryan plan is perfectly consistent with the pledge. >> host: let's bring in chris now from spring hill, florida,en the republican line. good morning, chris, you're on with grover norquist. >> caller: good morning, thank you. >> guest: hey, chris. >> caller: thank you for c-span. yeah, mr. norquist, i think there's a big problem. see, you know, perception is everything when it comes to
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marketing, and it's the perception that the democrats are able to get across because the democrats, um, they know their audience. they know who they're pandering to. they know who they're selling to. and they treat them like stupid children. and it works. i mean, i'll give you an example. you remember when the bush tax cuts first came out and daschle, tom daschle and dick gephardt, they were the minority leaders. they didn't even have, they didn't have anything. they didn't have the house, they didn't have the senate, they didn't have the white house. yet they came out with this ridiculous show for the press with visual aids. they had to meet the press outside because they had a big, brand new lexus, and they had a rusty muffler. see, that's what he's going to get -- the rich guy, that is -- this is all you're getting, and basically they said there's nothing in it for you if you're middle class and poor. he's only doing this for the
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rich. well, we know that's not true, but most people bought it. in fact, to this day most people, i mean, most republicans i talk to, it's unbelievable. you know? i mean, forget about the truth, it's the perception of the truth. and, you know, it's amazing, i mean, you know, terms like gridlock, it came from them, you know? i mean, like they said the last congress was the worst congress ever because they got less done. not quality, quantity. >> host: mr. norquist. >> guest: yeah. very good points. look, the democrats attacked the reagan tax cuts and said they'd be awful and unfair and, of course, we got the longest boom in american history. they attacked the 2001, 2003 tax cuts and said they were unfair, and yet president obama just had to acknowledge january 1st he made 85% of the bush tax cuts permanent, 85%. and what that means is even by
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obama's definitions 85% of the benefits of the tax cut went to middle-income americans x as a result -- and as a result he made them permanent. now, the democrats had never offered to do that in the past. it was a tremendous concession. they had to admit that for 12 years they were lying about who benefited from the bush tax cuts, but we'll take it. 85% of progress is progress, and now what we have is we face the tax rates and the tax system in the federal government instead of being temporary and having to be reuped every two and five years, it's now permanent. so if president obama and the democrats want to raise taxes on any american, they've got to look them in the eye and pass it through the democrat senate, the president has to stand up and say i want to raise your taxes, and the republican house would have to agree. now, the republican house is not going to allow them to raise taxes on the american people, and that's how you force a
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conversation about reform. the reason why there's been no reform during the obama years, no entitlement reform, no welfare reform, is that they just raise taxes and spend more money. but when you stop them from having the ability to raise taxes, then they have to reform government to decide how to allocate resources and how to prioritize. that's the beginning of getting reform. and you're quite right that republicans need to be better at walking through with everybody why they're doing things, what they're up to and speaking directly to people, because you can't always expect cbs to articulate the republican position as accurately as we might like. >> host: smiley 22 writes in on twitter: with the trillion dollars of spending cuts in the last three years, when will we see the economy take off, mr. norquist? >> guest: okay. we haven't had a trillion dollar in spending cuts what we had was an agreement by the president of
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the united states forced on him by the republicans to reduce spending over the next decade by a trillion dollars. so that's $100 billion a year. and those cuts haven't started happening yet. they're just beginning to kick in. the sequester is an additional $1.2 trillion over the decade. so what the republicans won in that big battle we had in 2011, the budget control act, was that obama wanted to keep spending, and he needed the debt ceiling to be increased because he'd spent so much money. and the republicans said, okay, we'll raise the debt ceiling is so the country doesn't default, but only if you agree to a dollar-for-dollar reduction in spending over the next decade. and so we got $2.5 trillion in spending restraint. not real cuts, spending less than obama had hoped in. in washington that's called a cut. if you wanted ten of something and you only got eight of something, you go i got cut too.
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actually, you walked away with eight. but, so that was a $2.5 trillion spending reduction over the next decade. it hasn't happened yet. we're still, we have several problems facing us. the trillion dollars in obamacare tax increases that hit this decade, that begin to hit now. oddly enough, the president and the democrats in the house and senate decided to put the tax increases, the bulk of them after the 2012 election. so everybody voted, and now the tax increases hit. it's not helpful for the economy, and i think it's going to be unpleasant for voters. >> host: ron's up next from watertown, south dakota, on the democratic line. good morning, ron. >> caller: good morning. >> guest: hey, ron. >> caller: yeah. thanks for taking my call. say, i have listened to you for a long time, and i find very little that i don't disagree with. however, i know a little bit about the tax code, and there's
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many things in the tax code, especially this business exemptions, that are very vague, and there's a lot of companies, a lot of businesses that don't pay any taxes. and what they do is they write their taxes off. they declare their taxes a business expense which, in fact, it isn't. in fact, if, for example, if i was going to orlando, florida, and i was going there to check the price of wing nuts, however, i stopped at disneyland, theoretically i could write my trip off as a business expense, but in reality it would not be a business expense. and i think if you're going to run a free enterprise, i know a little bit about the economy too. if you're going to run free enterprises, taxes have to be fair. and, you know, when i listen to the republicans, what i hear from the republicans is we absolutely cannot raise taxes on
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wealthy people or can we cut any government program that affects wealthy people. but for middle class people, we can raise the taxes a little bit and cut a lot of programs that affect the middle class. and i'd like you to respond to that. >> guest: well, two things. i think we're largely in agreement on the importance of getting a tax system that's simpler, lower, less intrusive, less abusive to the american people. you mention a lot of deductions and credits are problematic, maybe not necessary, not helpful. president obama's put corporate welfare tax credits in for all sorts of wind power and ethanol and things like that because he wants to benefit certain corporations at the expense of all consumers. and i think that the special interest tax credits that were put in max baucus has a collection of former employees who lobby for getting these in,
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and their boss works with the finance committee and the democrats, a bunch of stuff was snuck in in the fiscal cliff where you have to wonder why corporate welfare was handed out by baucus' former staff people to their clients. this is a real challenge, um, and it's small c corrupt. i mean, it's probably legal, but i don't think it's a good idea, and it's not good for the country. let's reduce, eliminate those sorts of deductions and credits and reduce marginal tax rates so that it's not a tax increase. when you mentioned, um, taxing rich people, every time the liberals want to raise taxes they claim they're taxing the rich. but, of course, they end up taxing everybody. you may remember that the personal income tax was put in 1913, top rate 7%, and you had to make $11 million to pay the
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7% rate on income over $11 million in today's dollars. now not just a handful of americans pay taxes, but half of americans pay the federal income tax. that was a tax on rich people that became a tax on almost everybody. the tax to pay for the spanish-american war, the 3% federal excise tax on your phone, on long distance put in as a tax on rich people in 1898, more than 100 years ago, because only rich people had phones. they were, like, $5,000 apiece in today's dollars back then, and only rich people make long distance phone calls. not too long after that everybody had phones, and now everybody makes long distance phone calls, and we're all paying a middle class, low income, middle income, high income people all paying a tax that was promised to be a tax on rich people. the alternative minimum tax put in 1969 to tax 155 people who ted kennedy thought weren't paying their fair share, 155.
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today four million american families are hit by that, and if we hadn't won the fight against obama on the fiscal cliff and made much of the amt permanent, it would have been 30 million people in addition to those 40. so they say we're going to tax 155 people, and then we end up taxing 30 million people. keep an eye on trickle-down taxation. it's the way the liberals introduce taxes. oh, we're not taxing you, we're taxing the other guy. and then the next thing you know, they're at your throat too. >> host: the next possible budget issue coming down the road this deal, this possible grand bargain that's being talked about on capitol hill. senator bob corker, republican from tennessee, was on fox news sunday and addressed this issue of a possible deal with democrats on entitlements. take a listen. >> well, again, i think, i think there, by the way, is a chance on a deal. i know the president is saying the right things, and we have an opportunity over the next four to five months. i think that, you know, we'll
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know when the president is serious by virtue of a process that's set up where he is actually at the table or whether he has a designee and whether he begins to say publicly to the american people, to all americans that he understands that americans are only paying one-third of the cost of medicare, and that has to change for the program to be here down the road. but look, chris, i think, i think republicans if they saw true entitlement reform would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues. and that doesn't mean increasing rates. that means closing loopholes. it also means arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth. >> host: your take on senator corker's read of the situation? >> guest: well, look, the democrats for the last two years now have been trying to say, oh, we're for a grand par gain, we're for simpson-bowles. now, simpson-bowles -- which a handful of republicans said nice things about but, again, only a
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handful of them -- the only real numbers in there other than the page numbers were the desire, the demand that they take historic revenue amount of taxes from 18.5% of gdp up to 21%. that'd be a $5 trillion tax increase over a decade. that was their opening bid, and then they were willing to talk about other stuff. but first they wanted a $5 trillion tax increase. then they talked about another trillion dollars in tax increases hidden inside something they called tax reform. so you're talking about $6 trillion tax increase, and then they were rather fuzzy about what spending cuts they might want. we've seen the president has walked into the negotiations last fall, and there were no spending cuts. he got tax increases because there were automatic tax hikes which he wanted to take effect, but no tax increases. the idea that the modern democratic party which created these runaway entitlements and has never reformed them secretly desires to reform them, this is what they really want to do, um,
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strikes me about as likely as mark twain used to observe that americans always want, think that people want to go to heaven and play the harp all the time when they're in heaven for eternity. but when they live here and the harp's around, nobody plays the harp. so why would you think that somebody says, oh, i really want to do that, and i want to do that all the time but after i'm dead, okay? and the democrats really want to fix entitlements, but after they're out of office. democrats out of office talk a hot about reforming entitlements, democrats in office just, they increased new entitlements. obamacare is another big, unfunded entitlement, massive tax increases but still not enough to pay for it. that's what they put in. the idea that there's this fiction that secretly they want to do that, um, strikes me as odd. and senator corker was burned when last fall he thought he was negotiating with the white house about this and, of course, they took tax increases and to to spending restraint and no
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entitlement reform at all. so having a conversation about how much you'd pay for a pink unicorn if pink unicorns existed strikes me as an odd way to spend one's time. there are no pink unicorns. there's no proper price for a pink unicorn. and the ds are not interested in real entitlement reform that saves money. if they did, they'd be for the ryan plan. >> host: want to ask you about sequestration. we're a couple weeks into sequestration now. this tweet last week from dave at the atlantic caught my eye: norquist on why the white house misjudged about gop and sequestration. quote, he listened to four republican senators who are on c-span a lot. explain that. >> guest: yes. look, interestingly the president of the united states, president obama, started shortly after the election in a very strong position. he just won re-election, okay? and he had a democratic senate. now, he didn't own the capitol because republicans had the house of representatives, but the next thing was the fiscal
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cliff. and the fiscal cliff was an automatic $5 trillion tax increase unless the president, the house and the senate passed an alternative bill. so he had all the cards. he had all the power. if he said i want to keep one trillion of that five, i want to keep two, the republicans and democrats in the house and senate couldn't stop that. the republicans in the house several times said we vote to extend everything, and the democrats in the senate said, well, we don't, so it's going to be a $5 trillion tax increase. and the president said, okay, i want $600 billion. he took his pound of flesh, he got that. and then he made all of 85% all the remaining bush tax cuts permanent. so 85% of the money that he could have taken off the table and given to his friends remained with the american people. and as a result, he now gave up
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all of his bargaining position. what if instead he'd said, guys, we're going to have, we're going to extend the tax cuts for most people for a year. then a year from now he'd have said, well, i can only extend part of this for another year. he would have had all the clout. every time he gets mad at the the republicans, he could have said, well, if you do that, i'm going to have to make you pay for it by culling back the tax cut when we extend it next year, or you could do it every two years. instead, he gave that all away. why would he give up his bargaining position, his upper hand on taxes? well, he believed he also had the upper hand on sequestration. sequestration or the automatic spending cuts. they're the opposite of the fiscal cliff. the fiscal cliff was if nothing happens, taxes go up, and the republicans can't stop it. there's no vote they can take to stop it. sequestration is unless the house, senate and the president vote on an alternative, there's a $1.2 trillion spending
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reduction from obama's wish list over the next decade. so it's automatic. so if the republicans say we don't want to stop it, it doesn't stop. the democrats keep saying why don't you raise taxes instead. the answer's, no. what obama thought was going to happen because he saw a handful of republicans on chat shows saying, oh, we'll get the vapors and faint if any defense spending increases are not carried out. what he missed was they were recycling the same four or five republican politicians, and in point of fact that's not where the, certainly not where the country is, it's not where the modern republican party is, it's not where the republicans in the house and the senate are. there's some guys on spending committees who'd like to spend money, that's understandable. but at the end of the day, we should probably figure out how to give the pentagon more flexibility, but they need to save the same amount of dollars promised in the sequester as the
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rest of the government does. and so the president misjudged believing that republicans would panic during the negotiations on fiscal cliff. he kept waiting for the republicans to put the sequester on the table in order to give it away. and that never happened. the republicans, let's delay the sequester two months, and president obama thought the republicans were retreating. oh, good, i'm going to get my tax increase now, and the republicans are about to give up on the sequester. there was some conservatives watching from afar going, uh-oh, we're giving up. the republicans were moving the sequester from outside the blast radius of the disaster that the fiscal cliff was going to be because the president had all the power. they moved it outside. fiscal cliff happened, we moved forward, now the republicans have all the clout in the discussion about spending restraint is. >> host: we're talking with grover norquist, the president of americans for tax reform, twitter handle @tax reform.
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and if you want to catch up -- >> guest: oh, that's atr -- talk to me directly, @grover norquist. or both, @tax reform will get all of our press releases, @grover norquist will met you know how my children are behavioring today, as well as tax policy. >> host: wallet to get to mark on the republican line. good morning, mark. >> caller: good morning. >> host: go ahead. >> guest: you must be tired of everybody criticizing the media. >> caller: listen, my question is i'm 82, and i've been doing my own taxes for a number of years, and each year they become more and more complicated. and i'm finding that i, it takes me not hours, but days and days and days to complete my taxes, half of the time i don't think they're right anyhow. and the amount of paper involved and the amount of requirements on companies, for example, i
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have some investments that they have of to report, it's just a nightmare. and when you think about the number of hours and days across the country that are wasted filling out these forms, i feel that something -- you ought to add that to your reform agenda. >> host: mr. norquist. >> guest: i agree completely. that's one of the problems with the tax code, the costs of the tax code that we don't talk about. it's easy to talk about how many dollars the government took and brought to washington d.c. those are numbers the government puts out. less easy to quantify -- although there's some estimates that give you a pretty good idea of the minimum amount. i mean, it is many, many man hours. you know, you could build several skyscrapers if everybody instead of doing their tax cold showed up -- tax code showed up and built buildings with that time. it is a huge deadweight loss.
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it's on the individual level. talk to small businessmen and women, talk to somebody who works for a big company, and they'll tell you how many man hours are eaten up by small companies, middle-sized company, and you know for individuals that could be either productively employed in growth, or people could take saturday afternoon off and run their lives as they see fit. it is a deadweight cost of the income tax system, and it needs to be reduced dramatically. >> host: back to pennsylvania, edward is from my nennersville, pennsylvania, on the incompetent line. you're on with grover norquist. >> guest: hi, edward. who named all these towns in pennsylvania? >> caller: good morning. you know, i'm only going to make about three or four points. you make so many misstatements, i'd like to, you know, sit with you for a half hour, but i can't. you say the democrats are tax and spend. you could label the republicans or start with ronald reagan, cut taxes, big chunk toss the wealthy and then borrow the
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money to pay the bills. that's how you get debt, $2 trillion, $3 trillion, $4 trillion. ronald reagan had this concept, starve the beast. he said the way we're going to kill social security and medicare and medicaid, we're at right now, is to make this government's debt so big that we can't afford them. >> guest: absolutely. one second, sir. ronald reagan was never in support of killing any of those programs. i mean, that is hyperbole. >> caller: he wanted to tax on the wealthy. let me finish, please, you get -- >> guest: he cut taxes across the board, sir, on everybody. >> caller: start to filibuster because i'm going to hammer you with a question. he lored the tax on the wealthy from 70 down to 40, and that amounted over the 30 years trillions and trillions of dollars being given away to the wealthy. do you think there's a correlation between us being trillions and trillions of dollars in the hole and the fact we gave trillions and trillions of dollars away to the wealthy over the last 30 years?
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>> host: mr. norquist? >> guest: several things. the top marginal tax rate was cut from 70 down to 28, much percent. and at the end of of his presidency, the highest 1%, the highest 5% of taxpayers, higher earning taxpayers, paid a larger share of the total tax burden, not only paid more, they paid a bigger share of the tax wurd than -- tax burden than before. ..
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reagan had us growing at 4% a year, twice as much. if reagan's policies had been followed after the 2007 fannie mae, freddie mac, crash, what we would have had is a 11 million more americans today at work. there are 11 million americans today not working because of obama took the stimulus spend approach towards government, the same hoover took and same one fdr took. and their recession last ad very long time. >> host: diana next from henderson, kentucky on the republican line. good morning. >> caller: good morning i really love c-span. thanks for being there for us. >> host: what is your question for grover norquist? >> guest: hi, diana. >> caller: hi, mr. norquist. here is my question. i have to give a explanatory
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sentence first. projections for social security expenses are based on protection -- projections of the longevity of baby boomers. here in flyover country, baby boomers are getting sick and diying between ages of 50 and 65. i've had several personal experiences with that. and so, mr. norquist, do you know how many baby boomers have already died starting in 1946 when we started counting baby boomers? how many have already passed away, and are the projections for social security really accurate when we're out here dying? >> guest: i don't know the exact number. obviously -- >> see the rest of this discussion online at we're going live now to the council on foreign relations
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here in washington, d.c. for remarks from senate armed services committee chair, senator carl levin. he will discuss u.s. defense policy. this is live coverage on c-span2. >> okay. afternoon, everybody. my name is michael getler welcome to today's council on foreign relations meeting. our guest today is, senator carl levin. he widely respected chairman of the senate armed services committee. democrat from michigan who will have served for 36 years, all of them as a member of this committee or that committee and chairman of it for the past six
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years. when he steps aside at the end of next year. so senator levin's voice has been central to many of the life and death and "war and peace" issues for as long as he has been in the senate and today we're going to hear that voice once again before we get into our question and answer session. senator? >> mike, thank you so much and thanks for the council on foreign relations for the invitation to be with you again. i've got a number of my staff members who are with me here today. my chief, my new chief of staff at the armed services committee, peter levene is here. another member of that staff, bill monahan, is here. my press secretary, tara is here. and gordon trowbridge, does a lot of my speech writing. if you like what i have to
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hear today, i wrote the speech. if you don't, he wrote the speech. a few weeks ago you may have noticed an interesting news analysis heading up the international news section of "the new york times." it was headlined, afghan sign of progress turns out to be error [laughing] the article, the article reported that the government had acknowledged that a report on progress in afghanistan had mistakenly indicated a 7% drop last year in the enemy attacks. as a matter of fact, there had been no decline. it was a mistake. but what was notable wasn't the error. it was the fact that the correction received far bigger play than the story that it was correcting. when the initial good news report came out in late
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january neither "the times" or any other major newspaper that i know of even mentioned it. "the times" in its story-length correction reported, quote, though the mistake may be embarrassing it is not likely to greatly change perspectives about how the war is going? on that much we agree. and in the view of much of the media, afghanistan is the good war gone wrong. a justifiable effort to end the al qaeda and taliban threat that has stumbled. media coverage is largely negative and as a result, so is the public perception. the negative public impression of the afghan conflict is only made worse by regular, hard for americans to swallow comments of president karzai. but more on that later. i have no illusions about the immense costs that we have borne in afghanistan.
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the difficulties that we have encountered, the ambiguous nature of the situation or the challenges that we confront but i will argue that the negative view of our involvement in afghanistan is wrong. let's start with the military situation. it's unlikely that violence will disappear from the afghan landscape anytime soon. there is no doubt that elements of the taliban will seek, mostly by instilling fear and intimidation, to retake territory where they have lost control. but the security picture has changed very much are if the better. there are unmistakeable signs of progress on the single-most important security task that we face in afghanistan. rebuilding afghan security forces capable of securing their own nation. senator jack reed and i
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visited regional command east in afghanistan in january. now less than two years ago, under 30% of after gan security -- afghan security forces were conducted unilaterally, that is without international forces on hand to support the afghan forces. but since april of 2012, that figure has not dropped below 70% and generally has remained at or above 80%. operations conducted unilaterally by afghan forces. fewer afghan civilians fell victim to insurgent violence in 2012 and over a four-week period earlier this year, no u.s. or coalition troops were killed in action. afghan forces certainly require our support in
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logistics and transportation and intelligence and other areas but they are clearly capable of carrying the fight to the taliban and are doing so effectively. now that is precisely the mission that i have been recommending that we pursue for years now, enlarging, training and equiping afghan security forces capable of defending their own country. that goal is becoming a reality. in a society that they are defending is better off than what we began and here are some signs of that progress. under taliban rule, roughly 800,000 afghan children were in school and girls were widely denied an education. now, more than eight million students attend afghan schools and more than 40% of them are female.
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in 2001 afghanistan had 20,000 teachers, all male. today there are 200,000 teachers including 60,000 women. the number of schools in afghanistan has grown from 3400 in 2001 to more than 16,000 today. per capita gdp has grown fourfold since 2001. afghan life expectancy has increased 20 years since then. more than 18 million afghans now have telephone access compared to about one million ten years ago. now these facts do not eliminate the difficulties that we face. they continue insurgency, a neighbor, pakistan that remains a safe haven for insurgents moving across the border. an ineffective and often
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corrupt central government and other major barriers to stability and to progress. just as it is important for us to be realistic about the challenges that we face in afghanistan, it's also important that we recognize the advances that have an bp made. so that we can reinforce actions that promote success. i just mentioned two here. the first is to continue to work hard to establish a durable partnership that will provide afghanistan security forces the assistance that they need. nato made an important decision on that front last month in brussels when nato defense ministers reversed an earlier decision to reduce the planned size of afghan security forces. second, we should reinforce achievements in building afghanistan's human capital. more than 2/3 of afghans are
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under 25 years of age. and the country's future depends on opportunities for them. one promising venue for those efforts is the national solidarity program which is already financed over 68,000 small-scale, locally sustainable projects that afghan villages select, oversee and protect from taliban interference. that we can even discuss goals such as these is one measure of how far we have come in afghanistan, despite the challenges, and we should not lose sight of the distance that we've traveled. but now what to do about president karzai? i know it's the question on all of your mind. isn't making success more problematic? and he surely is. there's been an understandable outpouring of dismay in our country at his
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various offensive, recent, and not so recent comments such as, a recent speech in which he said, taliban attacks are quote, in the service of foreigners not withdrawing from afghanistan, close quote. some say karzai is motivated by domestic politics. that he is acting shrewdly to play on his country's long distaste for foreign influence. and that his comments reflect a personal, super sensitivity to slights against afghanistan sovereignty. but you do wonder how he can be so erratic as to say that the taliban are serving american interests while saying in the same speech, that america is quote, a french and strategic ally. of afghanistan. karzai is mystery that we've had to deal with for a long time and we'll have to continue to deal with. however, complex his motivations, the effects are
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the same. karzai's remarks endanger u.s. and coalition troops by encouraging the taliban to take advantage of the apparent disarray they might see among those fighting against them. karzai's absurd remarks, weaken the support of the american people to pursue a strategy based on a carefully planned transfer of responsibility to afghan security forces and they raise doubts in many, if not most american minds about the wisdom of a long-term, strategic relationship with afghanistan with all of its costs and its risks. should these challenges including karzai's inflammatory rhetoric cause us to change course? now i was disappointed when president obama, instead of deciding to reduce troops during 2013, at a quote steady pace, as he said he
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would, and as i had urged him to do, the president effectively decided against further troop reductions until the end of this year. i believe returning to a policy of steady pace of u.s. troop reductions would do a number of things. it would keep the pressure on the afghans to take more and more responsibility for their security. it would reflect the faster than expected success of afghan security forces. and it would be a vote of confidence in those forces. and returning to a steady pace of u.s. troop reductions, would have the added benefit of sending a message to karzai that he can not have it both ways. endapgering our troops with his rhetoric, by the way, taking same security those troops help provide for granted.
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returning to the steady pace approach to reductions of our troops would also be in keeping with the wise advice that i and some of my senate colleagues received three years or so ago from a group of afghan village elders in answer to my question, do you want us here? their answer was, we want you to train our army and leave. we will up site you back some day as guests. we need to give karzai as few excuses as possible for his outbursts. for instance, we must be certain that afghanistan will be the leader with any discussions with the taliban and is soon as such. if the taliban will only talk with us, then there should be no talks with the taliban. we need to respect afghanistan's sovereignty.
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postponement of the handover of the bagram detention facility, however understandable, is a challenge to afghanistan's sovereignty and could play into the taliban narrative that president karzai is a puppet of the foreign forces. the response to that postponement by the way from a group of leading afghan clerics paralleled karzai's tone when they said that american forces are infinite, quote, who keep on disobeying, close quote. representatives of each nation need to be more sensitive to how words and actions are perceived by the other and seek ways to cooperate respectfully and in a common cause, promoting stability, and preventing the turn -- return of taliban dom anything in -- domination in afghanistan. a few weeks ago some of my senate colleagues and staff
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gathered in the capital to meet an exceptional group of young people, members of the afghan national youth orchestra performed for us before they began a short u.s. tour that ended at carnegie hall in new york. these children, boys and girls, ethnically diverse, most of them literally rescued from the streets of afghanistan and kabul, played a selection of traditional afghan music. after which we took them on a tour of our capitol. such an evening would have been unimaginable before our partnership with the afghan people. not only were there no musical academies under the taliban, there was no musical loud. our evening with those remarkable young people does not erase the challenges that we mace in -- face in afghanistan. i didn't forget those challenges that night but i also can not forget those children or the millions of afghans who have access and
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education and freedoms unimaginable when the taliban and al qaeda held sway and made afghans captives in their own land. every time the taliban blows up a school, or attack as child for seeking an education, they lose ground in afghanistan. america's long involvement in afghanistan has come at enormous cost and precious lives and in resources. that price is not secured everything we hoped for but as we prepare to bring our amazingly brave and dedicated troops home over the next year-and-a-half we should remember that the difference they have made for our security and for the afghan people. thanks. [applause] >> thank you very much, senator. that was important, those were important remarks and one of the, one of the headlines that has appeared
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recently that you may have been referring to, i don't know, but, it goes beyond your call for a steady pace to resume, a steady pace, withdrawal, it was by the former head of this esteemed organization, leslie geld, who posted a op-ed piece saying, the headline said, to hell with karzai. that was after the -- >> he is more succinct than i am. >> what he said, i will just read a sentence or two. he said hamid karzai is beating up on the united states to score domestic political points once again. this time on the occasion of chuck hagel's maiden visit as defense secretary to that sad country. yet the obama team and america's foreign policy cognizenti, can't seem to draw the obvious conclusions, stop letting these karzai guys play us as suckers and speed up our exit and stop
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wasting american lives and dollars. that is not very diplomatic but comes from the former head here and probably, as you probably know what a fair number of people think. is that the right prescription? in other words, he is going beyond something that you're talking about. >> it is pretty close except for some of the rhetoric because i don't think we're wasting lives and dollars there. i think we have had a mission. that mission was to remove of the taliban from control of afghanistan. and it was to try to provide the afghan security forces with the numbers and the capabilities, the skills, that they need to prevent the taliban from taking control again. that mission has, for the most part successful militarily. the part which will help to sustain it which is to have a government in afghanistan which is less corrupt, has not been as successful. but it's, nonetheless i think, going to leave
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afghanistan and we're not going to totally leave it, in a the about every condition than we found it and in a better place, i believe, to not just take, there to make sure that the taliban can't control them again but i think, that is so clearly in our interest that i just wouldn't go as far as as mr. geld does there with his comments about wasted lives and money. i just don't think it's been a waste of time. i think it was an important mission and it's been, it will be successful to a large degree, not perfectly, but to a large degree. >> you need to hook your microphone up, sir.
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while you're doing that, we don't have as much time as usual today for questioning. so, i'm sure the audience will want to come back to afghanistan. i want to take a few minutes if i could, to ask you about sort of two human and material status of the american military and as you know we're now decade into two wars with military personnel having to go three, four, five, tours back to iraq, back to afghanistan, et cetera. and i was just wondering if it is, if it is your sense that rather than smaller forces for the future, the united states actually needs larger forces, and is able to continue with this kind of a repetitive tours that are being asked of military personnel? >> well, we can't keep up the repetitive tours and
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we're not. as we bring troops home from afghanistan, that pressure is going to be reduced. one, i guess a fourth reason, i gave three reasons for keeping a steady pays for reductions. a fourth reason would be that issue, that very issue that we can't have these kind of repetitious and repetitive tours continue. so i don't think we need to increase the size of the military but we do have to avoid those tours and i believe that we're going to succeed in doing that. >> but you would favor reducing the size of the ground forces? >> somewhat. we do have schedules small reductions in the forces and i think it's,, i think we need to do that. >> the other question i wanted to ask you again off afghanistan is that how is it that these huge defense contractors and military civilian congressional oversears that are supposed
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to essentially prepare for american defense and put it in good shape, how can they -- have been able to proceed with an f-35 joint strike fighter that is now seven years behind schedule, $400 billion program, 70% over cost? who pays for these seemingly endless flaws and cost overruns? plus you have the navy's litoral ship program that was supposed to be low cost. now double in price to $440 million per vaes he will. you have to $2 billion army program for 2,000 new ground combat vehicles that are hard to transport. i don't know how much public pays attention to these things but they're enormously expensive and enormous cost overruns in all these programs and how do you get control of that? that is not helping the defense of the country? >> no, surely not. a few years ago we adopted a
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major reform for acquisition. it's gradually taking hold but it is still gradual. there's lot of reasons that these things spend and spun out of control and still going on in terms of costs. one of the reasons is that we don't settle on the requirement and on the technologies in the weapon system. we don't say, okay, that's it. because americans being innovative as we are continually improve whatever the technology is inside of a weapon systems. and until now we've been continually upgrading, changing the design and the development of these weapons systems. part of it, this is a multi-faceted acquisition reform. it was levin-mccain reform. so it was bipartisan reform.
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john mccain is very, very aggressive on this issue. and so part of that, and there are many more parts to it, but part of that is to say that we're going to stop any new developments, when we get to a certain point early in this development of a weapons system and leave it there. it may be only 90% as good but it will be half the cost. another thing that we've done there is we've, we put in many more stop points in the cycle in terms of cost to try to keep these costs in line. and there's a number of other things that we have put in place. with the f-35 the manager of that program was let go. was removed from that program. and, the cost issue, we have slowed down the production of the plane so that we don't fly before we buy. we're doing less of that. there was much too much of
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that, what is called concurrency. we've reduced the possibility of concurrency, flying before we actually go into the full-rate production of weapons systems. but it's, it's major problem. if you ask, who pays for it? the american taxpayers pay for it obviously. but, that's, those are some of the cueses of it. too much concurrency. too much change in the designs as we proceeded and we've tried to tackle both of those in our acquisition reform bill which is now law and which is taking some time to take hold. >> want to take advantage of my time for a minute and jump around a bit. we're talking about afghanistan but how do you think history is going to judge the obama administration's decision not to intervene in any significant military fashion in syria? 70,000 dead as you know and several million refugees. >> i think it's way too
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early how to predict how history is going to judge whether our policy is right. it's not too early to know how history will judge assad. that's easy. but in terms of whether or not we have proceeded in a more deliberate way than some would want us to, and probably a little more than i would want us to if you want to get into that, nonetheless the goal here is to make sure that what happens after assad is, is stable, is diverse, is not chaotic. that the right people are the ones that take over when assad goes. and that's, that's a matter of putting in place, if possible, a kind of an interim political coalition, which will have broad support inside of syria, which will not see a long
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period of retribution and violence following the fall of assad which will happen. and putting that in place to the extent that's possible is what is going on now. at the same time, supporting the opposition, at least those elements of the opposition which we believe are positive, constructive, progressive elements, but that are not the extreme element that otherwise could turn syria into a, if possible, hard to imagine, even, worst case, than is with assad now, put it this way, would not be an improvement on assad. we don't want that to happen. . .
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>> probably a little bit more, further more advanced militarily than what the president is doing. but i think his goal is the right goal to try to take steps to see if we can have the aftermath of the removal of assad to be a, um, a good aftermath for the region and for syria. that's not a given, by the way. if it just collapses, goes into chaos, disintegrates, a better aftermath is not a given just because he's gone. >> two other quick questions sort of related, they're not -- they're short, but not short answers. but whatever happened to majority rule in the u.s.
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senate? and, two, how does the sequester end, if it does end? do you have to wait million the end of this fiscal year -- until the end of this fiscal year? >> what happened to majority rule is that we have advanced the cause somewhat with our reforms that we were able to put in place on a bipartisan basis at the beginning of this year. eight of us, four democrats, four republicans got together and accomplished really two major reforms. number one, we have taken away, or put it this way, we've given the majority leader an option to move to a bill or a matter without being filibustered on a motion to proceed. providing the minority is guaranteed two amendments. not that they will pass, but they will at least be disposed of. the argument that the minority has made against any change that republicans made is what they claim the majority leader denied them an opportunity to offer
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amendments to bills by a mechanism called filling the tree that would prevent any amendments to a bill. and so what we agreed upon is that if he uses this new mechanism, that there will be an opportunity to offer -- subject, by the way, to being filibustered, but nonetheless an offer -- two amendments. now the majority leader has a tool to get over the abuse which was regular of the motion to proceed as a in this warting mechanism to our -- thwarting mechanism to our being able to proceed. it was a major advance. it sounds awfully technical, i know it is, but that was a significant advance for the majority leader. in addition on judges, we have severely restricted the number of hours you can waste on what's called postcloture after a judge does get 60 votes.
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one of the stalling mechanisms which has been used regularly by the republicans was to have this long debate, 30 hours, after a cloture was voted on a district court judge, that now has ended. it's going to be, i believe, four hours' debate if i remember correctly, not 30 hours. this is one of the most important things that the majority leader wanted to accomplish, and we were able to accomplish. we're going to get a lot more judges confirmed even if to appointments -- the opponents continue to abuse the rules, the rules have been restricted so even if they do continue to abuse them, they're not going to be able to successfully stop as many judges as they have. there was a third quasi-agreement which was not put into the formal structure as the ones i've just described, but which were orally agreed to in what's called a colloquy
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between the two leaders. but we made significant, i believe, significant progress. equally important, we avoided the use of the nuclear option. if the nuclear option is used which means changing the rules without following the rules -- the rules say you've got to have two-thirds to change them -- if the nuclear option is used, it would override by fiat of the presiding officer what the rules say is required to change the rules. it would change the whole concept of the senate as a continuing body. we have two continuing bodies in this country institutionally other than the council on foreign relations. [laughter] we have two continuing governmental bodies. one is the u.s. senate where only one-third of us are elected each two years. so we have -- and by our rules, we are a continuing body. we give continuity to our cup. the other -- to our country. the other one is the supreme
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court. the house is not. the house is a totally new house even if the members are not new, it is a new house with new rule by majority vote every two years. i'm sorry to give you a long answer, but you asked for it. [laughter] >> well, i should tell you it was a bipartisan question, because the democrats are no angels on this either. >> no, we've used it. by the way, we've used it. minorities have used it. it's one of the hallmark of the senate is we protect minorities. >> right. >> no other legislative or parliamentary body in the world. we've got to scale back on that abuse. to answer very shortly our second question, sequestration can be avoided if we can adopt a budget and an appropriation process for 2014. that's the way we're going to try to avoid it. we're not going to probably be automobile to undo it in -- probably be able to undo it in fiscal year 2013. >> okay. i'm sorry we ran a little bit long there -- >> answers were long, is the
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problem. >> no, that's fine. okay, wait for the microphone to get to you, please stand up, state your name and affiliation and keep your questions to questions and make them short, please. thank you. yes, ma'am. >> senator, i have to tell you i'm heart broken that you're leaving, and that's what my question's about. i'm miss si with the naval postgraduate school. i don't know how we're going to manage if we don't get people learning while they're in their jobs. and my understanding about congress is as soon as they get elected, they spend somewhere between 50 and 75% of their time raising money. i watch c-span, and people show up long enough to ask their question and then leave to go ask a question at another one. what are the structural things we could do, could possibly happen to make congress and the senate more productive? oh, by the way, i don't think we're getting educated people
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that are getting elected. i don't think -- it takes a long time to learn how to do this, so i think we're all being handicapped by it. >> the answer to your question, i'm afraid, is a book. [laughter] and since you want short questions and short answers to questions, i guess the short answer would be that, number one, don't guf -- give up hope. it's not as bad as it looks. just like afghanistan's not as bad as it looks sometimes. it's partly -- i can't blame it all on raising money, but that's part of it. i don't think anyone spends 50-75% of the time, that's truly an exaggeration, but most people spend too much time. secondly, i think we've got in terms of the senate functioning better, we've made some changes as i've already described this year which i hope will lead to the senate functioning better. we worked hard on it and did it on a bipartisan basis.
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third, one of the big problems is not just how much money needs to be raised, but the problem is there's a greater threat out there in terms of of that issue which is the growth of these so-called super pacs and the use of these non, these tax-exempt organizations for now unlimited amount of money. the supreme court opinion has opened the door to unlimited amount of money coming to campaigns. and that is going to put more pressure on people who are targeted to raise money in order to survive. in a sense, that kind of may end up being 50% in those districts or states where these tax-exempt organizations come in with this unlimited amount of money. the, our laws, our tax laws do not allow these tax-exempt organizations called 501c4s to use their money for political
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purposes. they're not allowed to do it. the irs has allowed them to get away with it. and one of the things i want to do in the next couple years and one of the reasons, frankly, i'm not running for re-election is that i can spend full time working on things that i really believe in. and one of them permanent subcommittee on investigations, the one that had the hearing last week on jpmorgan will have a hearing on the failure of the irs to enforce our tax code in a number of ways. the one we're just talking about against these tax-exempt organizations which use millions, tens of millions of dollars to, obviously, engage in political activity, these attack ads that have gone on and will get worse unless we act. but another way that we're going to be using our, my permanent subcommittee on investigations is to go after the way in which too many corporations in this country have avoided paying
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taxes by transferring revenue offshore. now, that's not your question, but since i'm on the subject, i can't miss an opportunity the to tell you that that is a big part of our problem is that we are really seeing a decline in revenues as a percentage of our economy to the federal government. it was traditionally 18%, it's now down to 15%. of gross domestic product. that's a huge loss. we have got to increase revenues. we're not going to probably be able to do it through increasing rates. we've kind of done as much as we can in that direction. but there's huge tax loopholes which are used, created, exploited. and i believe abused to avoid taxes that serve no purpose other than tax avoidance. and so, again, it's not your question, but since i'm talking about the permanent subcommittee to go after these tax-exempt
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organizations and these super pacs that have plowed so many hundreds of millions of dollars into our campaigns which help to create the problem which was described in your question, i wanted to add that to my answer. >> i agree it was a good question. sir, in the corner there. i'll get you in too. this is -- >> this is going to be a hardball question. >> mr. chairman, very nice to see you again. mike -- [inaudible] recently retired from the sasc. >> that's the senate armed services committee. mike was on the staff there. >> the equipment that, for example, exists in afghanistan ask and the notion of what are we going to do with it all, how much of it is coming out, how much of it will be left, where will it go, is this an issue that the committee is thinking about, and is it viewed as a solvable problem in a two-year time frame? >> three-part answer to the question about all the equipment that's in afghanistan. one is it's a huge effort to
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bring back that equipment. i mean, we've gone into some detail. it's going to take us a year and a half to get our equipment out even if pakistan road opens up which it now is again, the port down in karachi is now working again, and so we expect we'll be able to get all the equipment out that we want. the second part, however, that i want to mention on is that some of that equipment is going to be left in afghanistan for their army and should be. by the way. we've authorized in our authorization bill which which you've worked on, we've authorized our military to leave certain kinds of equipment to help the afghan army be a more advanced army and a more modern army. the third part i've already covered, and that's that issue of the pakistan line of supply being opened. that's been a contested issue. one of the real problems we've had with afghanistan is, i'm
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sorry, with pakistan -- i think i misspoke -- with pakistan is the closing of that road going up pakistan to cross over further north into afghanistan. and that now has been resolved. >> gentleman right behind. >> charter stephenson, sais. would you support a title 60 law that would extend to pentagon-run activities that look a lot like the cia's covert actions? the sort of rule where the president has to make a finding and congress gets notified for pentagon-run things? perhaps like lethal drone operations or cyber, offensive cyber operations. >> yeah. we haven't had any problem in being, getting notice, and i wouldn't have any problem in institutionalizing it to make
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sure that all presidents provide us with that kind of notice. we don't have to rely on the war powers act to get notice on that. we ought to get notice when those activities take place. and we do. but we can put it in a clearer structure if that gives people more confidence. >> yes, sir. right there. yeah. oh, i meant the gentleman in the back, but -- >> oh, i'm -- >> go ahead, we'll get him next. >> yes, barry carter from georgetown law school. north korea, a country that's an even more problematic leader than afghanistan. last week senator hagel announced plans to expand our missile defense system in response to north korean activities. in the past you've questioned sometimes expanding ballistic missile defenses. what are your views on the present situation, the present plans? >> i think they're good plans.
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i, the problems that i've had with, for the most part, with ballistic missile defenses have been the more exotic star wars kind of defenses, not with the kind of ballistic missile defenses that we've put in. in fact, we've been strong supporters in the senate to missile defense like aero missile defense and others which are against the realistic threats which are real against, particularly against iranian threats. and so i think it's probably wise to do what he's done recently. i supported the phased/adaptive approach in europe. i thought that was smart, to move from the previous approach and the previous administrations to what the, basically, the current approach is, putting the missile defense against an iranian threat are -- the real iranian threat to europe in poland and romania, i've supported that. i think it's smart.
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but the so-called phase four of that phased/adapt i have defense was not a real, was not realizeable yet. we don't know in it ever would be, frankly. it was kind of a paper phase four. phase one through three we know will work, it'll protect europe against iranian missiles. the added benefit of shifting that defense to alaska with the additional missiles is that it not only is more realistic against an iranian threat, but it also might open up some possible negotiations with russia. if we could take advantage of of two russian ray -- radars against the iranian threat which may now be open to us if they don't view the phase four as being a threat to them since we're moving that to alaska and california, it may give us even a stronger defense against iran. iran is the major threat. north korea is a second threat.
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the difference between the two is that in one case we think they might use them, iran. and the other case if they do did use them, it would lead to their own destruction, north korea. and they're only interested in this their own survival in north korea. iran has this patina at least of this superreligious extreme folks that might actually not care if they were wiped out in response to one of their attacks. there's some folks in iran who might not care. some of their leaders talk as though they might not care because they're idealogically so fervent and so extreme that they might actually care less, put it that way, than the north koreans do since the north koreans care only about regime survival. so it's kind of a -- bottom line, i support what the president has done. i think it protects our country better, and it protects europe
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in a more clear way, and it also can open the door to possible discussions with the russians which will strengthen the european defense against iran. because of those two radars they may be willing to share information from in russia. >> yes, this gentleman in the back. yeah. >> [inaudible] >> no, no, this gentleman right here, please. thank you. >> thank you, senator. my name's finish. [inaudible] with china news agency of hong kong. and my question is on china and asia-pacific, and as chinese new leader have taken office, what do you expect from u.s./china military relations? secondly, do you think the balancing strategic left shifting more military resources to asia-pacific could be
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sustainable in the context of sequestration and limited budget, or you hope the alliance like japan and south korea will share the burden with the united states? thank you. >> as far as our relationship with china's concerned, the major threat to that relation are cyber attacks which come from china. they are serious, they are huge, they are, they are involved at the moment with going after commercial information and commercial technologies. and the theft is just inexcusable. we've got to try to stop it, and we've got to find ways to persuade china it is not in their interest or it doesn't benefit our relationship for these kind of attacks to
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continue. it would be extremely helpful if china would also on the north korea issue do what they apparent are somewhat now doing which is moving towards a more robust effort to contain north korean nuclear program. there's some evidence that the chinese may be willing i -- willing now to work with the world community, part of the world community to try to contain and restrict the threat of the north korean program, both the missile program as well as the nuclear program. and that, that would be good news if china continues to move in that direction. i don't see that sequestration is going to have -- unless it continues, which i don't think it will, it will continue probably as i mentioned earlier for 2013, i don't see reversing
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it. but sequestration is a nine-year deal, and i don't think we're going to let it -- i hope we don't let it continue for even this year, much less for the eight out years because it's a terrible mistake. but nonetheless, i don't see sequestration continuing. i believe we're going the find ways to avoid the continuance of this really foolish program which is such an irrational way to budget. so i don't see that sequestration, for a number of reasons, is going to reverse the strategic emphasis that we're making on the pacific. >> the gentleman way in the back. >> chairman -- [inaudible] radio-free asia. >> i'm sorry, where? >> gregory -- [inaudible] radio-free asia. just a follow-up question on you mentioned just now the cyber attack ability from chinese. since the china side the usual suspects -- [inaudible] by newly-appointed prime minister they should not be assumed as the criminal, they
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should be assumed innocent as well. so i want you to comment on their military cyber attack capability. are they amateur or do they really own the military grade attacking capability? thank you. >> yeah. we think the chinese government is clearly supporting what's going on in terms of the cyber attacks coming from china. they wouldn't occur without the chinese government approval, acquiescence, support various levelses, various times. but one of the things that i have found, and this is not quite cyber, but it sort of relates in a way to whether china is going to be part of a community of nations in terms of having a world of law, and that is the counterfeit area. now, it's different from cyber. but nonetheless, it's the same
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issue whether or not intellectual property of other countries is going to be respected or not. we had a investigation at the armed services committee which proved that millions of parts that were counterfeited in china got into our weapons systems. millions of parts. and that they're counterfeited openly in a city in china out on the street where our older computers sent back to china, disassembled, parts cleaned, new numbers put on them and then resold as new. now, china can stop that in a minute. by the way. that's done openly. but they haven't. and it's part of this
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intellectual property theft which is also the current target for cyber attacks. and china's doing itself a disservice, i believe, in not putting an end to these kind of thefts of other countries' intellectual property. it's a huge issue, and it ought to be addressed by china. >> sir. >> thank you. josie rinse eurozoneny, plowshares fund. >> hey, joe. >> thank you for your years of service. you've been a calm voice of reason. you have said that we have way more nuclear weapons than we need for our deterrent missions and that the nuclear weapons budget is ripe for cuts. many of us would agree with you. can you take action on this this year, must you wait for the department of defense, or can you and the committee take the
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lead? >> we could do it. it's unlikely we will do it unless the administration is onboard and is leading the way. it's just difficult enough to get it done, um, with the administration. it's, i would say, probably impossible to do this without the support of the administration and without a plan on the part of the administration to start negotiating significant additional reductions. we're down to i forgot the number 15150, i think -- 1550, i think, was the most recent start effort. we have an obligation under our treatyies that, to get to zero, to eliminate nuclear weapons. the non-proliferation treaty has a deal, a deal between those nations that have nuclear weapons and those that don't. those that don't agreed they won't try to get them.
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there's been violations, obviously, by a few nations. but those that do, like us, have an obligation to reduce. i don't know if the word zero's in the npt, but basically that's what it means is elimination. so we have an obligation, treaty obligation to continue to move in this direction. hopefully, by treaty, but if not by treaty, by executive negotiation particularly with the russians. but it's important, i believe, for our security to do so and the proliferation goal, the anti-proliferation goal of so many organizations is that goal, the non-proliferation goal is much more achievable if we continue to reduce our numbers. >> yes, ma'am. i'll get you next. okay, go ahead. go ahead. >> [inaudible] >> yeah.
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>> thank you. senator, thank you so much for your leadership, and under the that leadership -- >> could you state your name? >> elise -- [inaudible] with human rights first. produced an important report on the military's treatment of detainees that helped solidify key reforms in the military. and now the senate intelligence committee has produced a 6,000-page report, as you know, on the cia interrogation program. i wonder if you could comment on the importance of that report particularly in light of continued claims about the efficacy of abusive interrogation techniques. thanks. >> that report that you referred to of the intelligence community, intelligence committee is currently classified. we've asked for a declassification from the cia. it's a very, very significant report. obviously, since it's
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classified, i can't tell you exactly what's in it, but let me put it this way, that it supports the view i have taken and that also that senator feinstein and i have taken in a public release that we issued about a year ago that the claims that some make from cheney on down that the use of waterboarding led to useful information are false. those claims are not accurate. and i can only tell you we have publicly laid out our case that they're not accurate in a release that the two of us signed and issued about a year ago, and it's available on our web sites so you can kind of see it there. but what you can't see unless the cia cooperates is a very, very detailed history of the use
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of abusive tactics, what the administration then in power called enhanced interrogation techniques, some of which are torture under international law including waterboarding. i had a, i, frankly, had a lot of trouble with brennan when he was confirmed because he would not acknowledge that waterboarding is torture even though it is torture under international law, under geneva, according to our president. obama has said it is torture, it is. and, but to your point it's not just torture, it's not useful. it doesn't and did not produce, did not produce the leads that ultimately went to, were used to allow us to capture bin laden. you know, that's the problem that a few of us had that with that famous movie, the
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implication that some of those tactics, those torture tactics produced useful evidence, the suggestion is inaccurate. and our interest, you know, people have a right to put out whatever movie they want. everybody has a right to their opinion on it. but what our interest is to whether the cia provided information which suggested to movie makers, that particular movie maker that those techniques produced information which helped us find obama. if that's what the cia did, we object to that. we don't object to a movie. movie's free speech. i can disagree with it because at the beginning of that movie it said it was based on interviews. so it made it look like it was more a documentary than it was. it was fiction, but kind of because of that opening statement made it look like less than fiction, okay?
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so we can object to it, that's our free speech right. but we don't object to anyone putting out any kind of movie they want. what our problem is, we don't know whether it's true, was if the cia gave their perspective. and if that perspective of the cia is that waterboarding led to useful leads, then, by god, we do want to know that, because that runs very counter to what we believe the historical record is. >> well, at the risk -- i'm not going to get waterboarded, so i'm going to have to end this. we're out of time. a reminder, this was on the record -- >> what? [laughter] that's what that mic was for. should have left that down at my feet. [laughter] >> thank you all. thank you, senator. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> if you missed any of this conversation with senator carl levin, it is available in the c-span video library. go to pote the house and the senate will be returning this afternoon with work this week on continuing funding the government past march 27th when current funding expires. they will also work on their respective budget plans for fiscal year 2014. the house is back today in about half an hour, about 2 p.m. eastern, for legislative business. floor debate is likely on the budget. all members wait for the senate to act on a bill to fund the government through september. and the senate's also in at 2 p.m. eastern, majority leader harry reid hoping to complete work on that continuing resolution and then move on to the 2014 budge and get it approved by the end of the week before the easter recess. live coverage of the house, as usual, on c-span and the senate on c-span2.
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earlier today here in washington republican national committee chair reince priebus announced the findings of a new report aimed at overhauling the republican party after losing the 2012 presidential election. the report, titled "the growth and opportunity project," includes 219 recommendations such as holding its national convention earlier than august in 2016 and modernizing the party's digital infrastructure. here's some of what he had totil say. >> in 2008 and 2012, the debates multiplied and were out of the control of the rnc. the cycle, this cycle, excuse me, there were 20 total debates. the first eight months before the iowa caucuses.. the report contrasts this with 1980 where there were six debates and 1988, there were 1 seven. i agree with the co-chairs whenw they say debates are vital to the primary process, but they
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must respect candidates' time and help the eventual nominee. so with an eye toward these recommendations, the rnc will embark on creating a system that facilities earlier guidelines ce for a more rational number ofl debates. we will take a leading role in organizing the debates, and we a will work with state parties ane our rules committee to insure balance in every respect. the report finds it advantageoui to move quickly to to thely t general election phase of the campaign allowing the nominee to spend general election money sooner.e to facilitate that, they recommend an earlier convention. so no more august conventions. our convention planning c commission will be tasked with s finding the optimal date in addition to improving financing, security, logistics, site selection and the overall program. we'll also take additional steps
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>> a portion of chairman priebus' remarks. you can see the entire speech as well as link to the report by going to our web site, and some reaction the to today's report from twitter today. we sent back in our rnc contribution request with a note, if you support mccain and graham, we don't support the gop. when will they learn? that's from reagan conservative. also this: rnc announces it'll pander to the masses instead of fighting to make the country right again. i hope there's some better long-term plan. that's from dan. also this from not too hot, not too cold. scary and out of touch. yeah, sounds about right, rnc. and, again, we welcome your tweets at, hash tag rnc. and while we wait for the senate to gavel in at 2 p.m. eastern, a discussion on immigration reform from this morning's "washington journal."
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>> host: and for the latest developments in the debate over immigration reform, we're joined by national immigration law center executive director marielena hincapie. we're seeing now reports that both the house and senate are working on separate proposals on immigration reform. what's the latest on timing for when we're going to start hearing details of those efforts? >> guest: well, we're hoping that the timing is very, very soon. as you know, congress goes out on recess on thursday, and so we're hoping at least on the senate that the bipartisan gang of eight will announce that shortly after recess they will be introducing legislation and moving the process as quickly forward. there's a lot of momentum, the political wind is really behind us this time, and i think the fact that there's so much effort both on the republican and democratic side, um, really gives us a lot of hope. >>st and this gang of eight, we know, had heard from before. what are we hearing about details that the senate proposal
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will include? >> guest: well, the senate proposal will be a comprehensive proposal for common sense immigration reform, and a number of the things that they have been negotiating are what does that road to citizenship look like, how long will it be, will it have a road to citizenship or not, and, um, on the senate side there is definitely agreement that there will be a road to citizenship, and they've been looking at, i think, the latest details are, um, that the path to citizenship would probably be about ten years of temporary legal status. so individuals will be able to come forward, come out of the shadows, get work authorization and work in the united states lawfully, but they would be in a temporary status for about a decade and then after that point would be able to apply for a green card and then eventually citizenship. >> host: and senate majority whip dick durbin was on fox news sunday and was asked about the issue of immigration and proposals for reform. here's what he said. >> but i feel good about it. there's a feeling in that room that we have a responsibility to
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this nation after 25 years to write an immigration law that we can live with for generations to come. >> what's the biggest problem? >> well, there's several problems. you know, we're dealing with border enforcement which is very important on the republican side of the table. we're dealing with the question of the 11 million people paying their taxes, having a path to legalization and then, ultimately, to citizenship. tough issues. but we're coming together, and i think we can do it. i have a positive feeling. >> host: and dick durbin seems very optimistic there. talk about some of the roadblocks that he was talking about. >> guest: so the roadblocks to citizenship could be many. we are hoping that the road to citizenship is as broad and inclusive as possible, otherwise the actual immigration reform just will not work. among the roadblocks is, for example, will there be or how will the metrics be defined in terms of border security. already the administration has spent over $17 billion just in last fiscal year alone on border and interior enforcement.
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that's more than all federal law enforcement agencies combined. so one of the questions is how will we define when the border is secure, because that's one of the requirements that the republicans have put on the table before people can actually then get behind, get in the back of the line, quote-unquote, and onto that path to citizenship. >>st and we're taking your calls in this segment. the democrat, independent, republican lines all open. give us a call. democrats call 202-585-3880. republicans, 202-585-3881. independent, 202-585-3882. we will take your questions on the proposals, comments about immigration reform and its chances for passage. what is the national immigration law center where you, where you work? >> guest: so i'm the executive director of the national immigration law center where a legal advocacy organization, our mission is to defend and advance the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants.
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i, myself, am an immigrant from colombia. my family came when i was 3, and education is a critical pathway out of poverty. and so we look at access to education, workers' rights issues, access to citizenship, for example, whether it's part of the dream act, um, which we helped to draft back in 2001 and have been leading the legislative campaign on that. we're looking to reform our immigration laws so that they, um, benefit all americans. >> host: and what are the issues that low-income immigrants face that are different from high-income immigrants? why focus on them at your organization? >> guest: so the main reason is that there are many economic barriers to prospering in the united states and to being able to achieve that american dream and definitely one piece of that is access to education. and so in, whether you're going to elementary school or high school in alabama, for example, we had a couple of years ago h.b. 56 which requires school administrators to verify the immigration status of children
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and their parents which served as a chilling effect for parents who are afraid to send their children to school. and we know that education is such a central component, um, of insuring that we have a competitive and well-educated work force. >> host: maverick writes in on twitter with a question for you, how will visa and visa status be addressed in immigration reform? >> guest: so that's a great question, maverick. visa and cease -- visa reform is a central component. the immigration reform debate right now has a number of pillars, um, so to speak. one is insuring that the 11 million aspiring citizens that are currently here who don't have lawful status are able to get onto that path to earned citizenship. second, that people who have been in, waiting in a visa backlog, um, if you're from the philippines, for example, you may be waiting, for 10, 20, 25 years to be reunited with your family members. those visa backlogs are dealt with, um, that the per-country
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capita caps are taken off and that visa numbers are increased so that we can reduce that visa backlog, and those who are currently here can actually get into, um, into line and eventually -- excuse me -- become citizens. >> host: front page story in the "usa today." this morning an immigration food fight. farm visas are the low-hanging fruit of any new effort. at stake, the stability and price of u.s. produce and the first comprehensive legislation in a quarter century. how tough of a roadblock is the visa issue going to be, or how tough of a hurdle to overcome? >> guest: so the ag sector in particular, agricultural sector is extremely dependent on, um, migrant workers, and that is one of the areas where, um, it unfortunately the negotiations are, seem to be quite apart but, hopefully, both farm worker advocates and the agricultural industry knows that this is necessary for our country to insure that we have, um, visas
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available for agricultural workers, that they, too, have a path to citizenship and most importantly that their rights as workers are protected and u.s. workers' rights are protect add was el. -- protected as well. >> host: liz smith writes in and wants to know who funds the center. >> guest: sure. liz, that's a good question. we're a nonprofit organization, so we rely both on private foundation and individual donations. >> host: want to go now to richard from south lyon, michigan, on the independent line. richard, good morning. richard, go ahead. sorry. >> caller: there's no problem with our immigration laws. the problem is that it's mostly mexicans that are coming over. how come we're not putting more pressure on the mexican government to keep all these people from coming over? i know they're good people, but the problem isn't with south korea, it's not with thailand, it's not with haiti, it's the
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mexicans that are coming over. so why don't we close our borders? >> host: go ahead. >> guest: unfortunately, richard, a lot of misinformation. a lot of people have a similar opinion as you do, and, in fact, most of the immigrants who are in this country are from many, many cups. mexicans -- countries. mexicans are, often times people think of undocumented immigrants as only from mexico. that's a large percentage, but people do come from all over. we have irish, we have polish who are undocumented and, again, there's a diverse nation. many people from around the world want to come to our shores. we have a history of allowing immigrants to come. but the immigration system is broken. at the end of the day, there is actual consensus on that, both americans agree that the system is broken and that we need to do something about it and now, finally, republicans and democrats also agree. >> host: iron patriot writes in many on twitter: do we have any numbers on how much recent legal and illegal immigrants cost us in benefits?
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>> guest: so there are, um, actually, a number of reports that are underway right now. there aren't any very recent, but the reports and studies that have been done over the years definitely show there's a net benefit to the country both in terms of immigrant contributions to society and culture, etc., but also that immigrants who are here unlawfully actually pay sales taxes, property taxes. um, we have a little bit of a hypocrisy in our nation where on the one hand undocumented immigrants might be here unlawfully, but the irs says if you are here unlawfully and you're working, you have to pay taxes, and here is an individual tax id number by which you are required to pay taxes. so overall the studies do show that there's a net benefit. >> host: we talked about the senate's proposal that's being worked on. who are the leaders on that? >> guest: so on the democratic side it is senator durbin, senator schumer, senator menendez, and on the republican side it's senator mccain, senator graham and senator rubio. >> host: and the house, a house group is also working on a
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separate proposal. here's a story from "the washington post" about that that lays out who's in that group. it includes, the post states, members that span the ideological spectrum, republicans include paul labrador, sam johnson of texas, mario diaz-balart of florida, the group's democrats are gutierrez, xavier becerra, zoe lofgren of california and john yarmouth of kentucky. give us insight into what we've heard about that proposal. >> guest: so, um, it's very promising that, again, on the house side there's been bipartisan conversations. in the group has actually been meeting, most of the members have been meeting for the last four years in secret, so it's only been in the last month and a half or two that it's become public that they are actually very close to reaching an agreement. similarly, on the house side their looking at -- they're looking at possibly a path to citizenship, although they're a little bit farther apart on that. family reunification being a
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central component as well, looking at visas both for low-skilled workers and high-skilled workers. and then what both the house and senate are looking at is the employment verification system to hold employers accountable when they hire undocumented workers. >> host: and that proposal in the house, obviously, speaker john boehner will have a say in that proposal when it does come up. this from the caucus column from "the new york times," mr. boehner has repeatedly said that he is planning to wait for the senate to move on an immigration overhaul before the house where the issue is expected to be a tougher sell takes up the topic.
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>> guest: yes. i think the great thing is that boehner has said he is behind this, he wants a deal to be reached. um, i think on the house side it's less clear whether a comprehensive bill will be agreed to or whether the house members in this particular gapping on the house side will be able to reach agreements on individual, smaller bills that then could get conferenced with a senate bill that passes. >> host: diane is next from desoto, kansas, on the republican line. good morning, diane. >> caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. >> host: uh-huh. >> caller: i think that one of the major concerns of people right now is that with 11 million or more people applying, you know, through the program to become citizens is that our country is already in a fiscal crisis with our entitlement
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programs. and with this large number of people coming onto our programs, we simply can't afford it in terms of food stamps, housing vouchers, medicaid. i have read more than once that 60% of new um grants go -- immigrants go on benefits. and where is the money going to come from? for example, obamacare. right now it's a very expensive program. how are we going to fund this without further making our fiscal situation worse? >> guest: so, diane, um, again, there's so much misinformation about the immigration system and immigrant use of public benefits. in fact, currently under law immigrants who are undocumented are not eligible for any of the federal public benefits that you mentioned like food stamps or any of that, nor will they be under the proposed legislation.
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both the senate bipartisan framework that has been released as well as the white house draft legislation that was leaked some weeks ago say that any of these newly-legalized immigrants will not be eligible for federal public benefits. and, in fact, today when somebody gets a green card, they're not eligible for these benefits for the first five years. overall, though, the issue that you raise about the country's economic woes are absolutely true. there's so much pain and suffering that every american is going through. so one of the benefits of immigration is that actually over time immigrants will be creating jobs. there is a percentage of entrepreneurs among the immigrant community, it's very high. and, again, we believe that over time the economic benefits will be greater for the country. >> host: and this subject of food stamps, affordable health care, an issue you've written about for huffington post politics, the headline "a road map for a hell think
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citizenship," if viewers want to read more of your thoughts on that. it's from the february 7th, it was posted on february 7th at huffington post politics. nick's next from jacksonville, florida, on the democratic line. good morning, nick. >> caller: good morning. i have a comment and then a question. >> host: go for it. >> caller: okay. i think the damage has already been done to this country, so it doesn't matter what type of reform we have in the future. just look back to '86 or '89 when we had the last amnesty. but my question is, i heard representative gutierrez, i think it is say that if you are here illegally, you are breaking a misdemeanor. it is only a misdemeanor on the books. is this correct, or is it a felony? thank you. >> guest: so, nick, that's a great question. um, actually, if you are here unlawfully, it's actually a civil violation. it's neither a misdemeanor or a felony. and so that's one, again, one of the major misconceptions about
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immigration law which is one of the reasons why when people are deported under our legal system, it's considered a civil penalty rather than, um, a kind of -- the equivalent of going to prison or anything like that. >> host: and the supreme court today is going to be hearing some oral arguments on a controversial arizona voter id law. this is a case that you guys have talked about, have done some work on. talk about your stance on this law. >> guest: sure. so the prop 200 case is the case that's gone before, it's arizona proposition 200 which passed back in -- by voters in 2004. and the national immigration law center, actually, it's not part of the lawsuit, but we definitely have been working closely with more of the civil rights organizations that have sued. this particular case is, actually, it has been brought by native american tribes, and the reason for that, arizona once again being an outlier in the name supposedly of trying to deny undocumented immigrants
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from registering to vote which is a nonissue because most undocumented immigrants would not dare to vote. they're afraid to even call the police for a crime. what's happened since 2004 when this law went into effect, over 30,000 citizens have been denied the ability to register to vote or to show when they were at the polls were not allowed to vote. so that is what the lawsuit is about. it's whether the state of arizona can have different requirements than the national voter registration act. >> host: an important issue for illegal immigrants. we actually want to hear from them today, this morning during this segment. if you're an illegal immigrant and you want to call in and give your comments or thoughts on this subject, call us at 202 -- a special line, 585-3883. we can talk about the supreme court decision or ongoing efforts for immigration reform, but that's a separate line just for illegal immigrants if you want to call in, 202-585-3883. our democrats, republicans and
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independents' lines are also still open. and we will go to our independent line now. valerie is waiting from auburn, alabama, on the independent line. good morning, valerie. >> caller: yes, good morning. this is kind of a broad, sweeping question, two questions that i have, and i hope someone on your panel can -- and i would like to see more and more americans asking themselves these two important questions. i think it's to the heart of what we're facing as a country. one, what's the role and responsibility of an effective government to its people, legal or otherwise? and how do we create wealth when we have government bureaucrats usurping it? how can you claim to be for jobs and job creation when you usurp from those individuals that create those jobs? i know it's -- >> host: and, valerie, is the immigration debate playing into your concerns on that?
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>> caller: well, why would it not? >> host: okay. >> caller: think about the questions. thank you. >> host: marielena hincapie, if you want to take that. >> guest: sure. they are broad, sweeping questions, valerie, and i think you're really about the role of government. i think we do believe that the government has a very important role, both the federal government and state governments, to protect its citizens and to help individuals have the tools that they need and have the economic opportunities that nay need to be -- they need to be able to contribute back to the community and society. >> host: want to go now to lowell from florida this morning on the republican line. good morning, lowell. >> caller: morning. thank you for taking my call. recently my grandson turned 18 years old, and i talked to him about registering for selective service. so he did. i got him the information from the post office first, and i just want to throw this out for
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everyone's information. who must register for the draft: male u.s. citizens and immigrants, documented and undocumented, residing in the u.s. and its territories must register if they are age 18-25. and that's within three months of their 18th birthday. and then the next thing is what happens if i don't register? not registering is a felony. young men prosecuted and convicted and failure to register may be fined $250,000 and prison up to five years, and they may lose student financial aid, government employment job training, u.s. citizenship for male immigrants. well, not only undocumented immigrants within that age period have now committed a felony if they haven't registered for the draft and all other male citizens documented, undocumented or naturalized u.s. citizens, but it just tells me that, you know, you had
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mentioned that undocumented immigrants were reluctant to register to vote. think of how many have not registered for the draft, and i'll take your comments off the air. >> guest: so, lowell, you raise a really important point with the selective service. this is actually one of the rare places where many young males actually do register for the selective service, and the reason is oftentimes the way people find out about the requirement is at, during high school where high school teachers will inform their students that they will have to register for the selective service. when, in the instances when people did not register for undocumented immigrants, let's say that they were petitioned by their parent and they're about to, um, either apply for citizenship or, actually, at the time of citizenship mostly where this comes up, sometimes there have been individuals who didn't know and never did register -- >> we're going to leave this conversation now. you can find it in its entirety
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online at c-span's video library. the senate getting ready to gavel in now, resuming work on a spending bill designed to keep federal government operating through the end of september. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. lord god, we put our trust in you, determined to accept the things we cannot change
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and to change the things we can. give our lawmakers the wisdom to trust in your power to help them navigate through the difficulties ahead. fill their thoughts with heaven's hopes, as the light of your presence envelops them. help them to see yourself as your servant leaders, filled with your power, patriotism and purpose. may they tune their hearts to receive your guidance and your abundant grace, opening themselves fully to your transforming might. we pray in your powerful name.
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amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., march 18, 2013. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable tammy baldwin, a senator from the state of wisconsin, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: patrick j. leahy, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, we will resume consideration of h.r. 933, the continuing resolution.
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the filing deadline for all second-degree amendments is 4:30 p.m. today. unless an agreement is reached, there will be a cloture vote on the substitute amendment today at 5:30. madam president, there are two bills at the desk due for a second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the title of the bills for the second time. the clerk: s. 582, a bill to approve the keystone k.l. pipeline, s. 583, a bill to implement equal protection under the amendment for the constitution for the right to life for each born and preborn human person. mr. reid: i would object to any further proceedings with respect to these two pieces of legislation. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the measures will be placed on the calendar. mr. reid: madam president, i want to advise everyone as to what's happening with our effort to keep the government running. we recessed for the weekend so
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negotiators to attempt to reach an agreement on a finite list of amendments to be considered today. the bill managers, shelby and mikulski, worked very hard and they have made progress over the weekend. we have condensed the number of amendments that are being talked about seriously. i commend them and their staffs for all their efforts. i have spoken to both of them this morning. they have not yet, though, reached an agreement. i think we are getting close. i hope that's the case. just before coming in here, i spoke to one of the staff members, and he's reaching out to senator shelby's staff before presenting it to the two senators for their approval. we have frankly had trouble getting both sides to agree on a finite list of amendments. there are a lot of amendments people want, but he objects to this, she objects to that, and there is still hope that we can have a limited number of amendments and vote on those and
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move to final passage of the bill. one way or another, we have to move forward on this bill. on wednesday, i filed a motion to invoke cloture on the pending substitute amendment and the underlying bill. on thursday, we postponed that cloture vote, anticipating that an agreement could be reached to consider amendments today. absent an agreement, we'll vote on the cloture petition tonight. it's in the interests of all senators that we move forward with this important legislation. the house is waiting our action. there is a great deal of work to do on either side of the aisle before the 27th of march kicks in. also, the more time we spend on this continuing resolution, the less time we'll have to vote on amendments to the budget resolution. as a reminder, the budget resolution cannot be filibustered, but there is 50 hours of debate, and we must reserve time this week to consider a number of amendments to the budget, because after all
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50 hours have expired, there is unlimited amendments, unlimited amendments. so this is going to be a very full week. senators should expect some work into the night and late votes, and we'll stay as long as it takes to complete work on both the continuing resolution and the budget resolution, even if that means working on the weekend and into the easter passover recess. i understand that passover is on monday. if we don't finish on the weekend, we would have to come back after the passover which would be terribly unfortunate, but we need some cooperation from senators on both sides of the aisle. i'm hopeful and confident we can get that. would the chair announce the business for the rest of the day? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 933, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 21, h.r. 933, an act making
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appropriation for the department of defense, the department of veterans affairs and other departments and agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2013, and for other purposes. mr. reid: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up amendment number 43. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. blunt: could we suspend the quorum call and then i'd ask that unanimous consent request to set aside the pending amendment. ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: what are you -- i object. the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. without objection we will suspend with the quorum call.
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mr. blunt: i need to repeat my request, madam president. just in case i that we set aside the unanimous consent that we set aside the pending amendment and call up amendment number 43. the presiding officer: is there objection? ms. mikulski: i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. blunt: madam president, i would like to talk about this amendment. i hope there's still a wait i might be able to offer it. if i'm not to be able offer it as an amendment to this bill, i intend to offer it as a bill to become part of the ongoing laws that govern these kinds of activities. i'd also say that i have said to many people, my great expectations which i have for the chairman of our committee, chairman milks, i understand she's trying to work out -- mikulski, i understand she's trying to work out how to make the work of the senate happen and i think she's going to be
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vigilant and determined and leading us back to the normal appropriations process. i'm proud to be a member of her committee, and i really do believe that she and senator shelby, the ranking republican, are going to be insisting that the senate get back to the way it does business, and i look forward to working with her to solve the problems we're solving this week and the problems we need to solve before october 1 when the new fiscal year begins. so let me say about this moment we find ourselves in that there is no question that government spending is out of control. we've increased spending 19% since 2008, the federal debt has skyrocketed to almost $17 trillion now, in 1981 when ronald reagan was swoanch in as president --, sworn in as president as part of his inaugural address we were approaching the first trillion
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in detective in in history of the country and the illustration he gave was if you had a stack of thowd bills four inches high, you'd be a millionaire. but to have a trillion dollars, you'd have to stack those dollar bills 67 miles high. well, now we're 67 miles high of $1,000 bills, not of $1 bills, and every four inches was a million dollars, 67 miles high times almost 17 and that's unacceptable. the president's own budget office has made more than 200 recommendations of ways we could find savings through making government more important, the government accounting office has identified 51 areas where programs are inefficient, ineffective and overlapping leading to billions of dollars in wasted taxpayers' money. there's simply known no reason that the government should stop
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providing essential services which is what i want to talk about because we're cutting 2.5% of the budget budget through these line-by-line cuts that, by the way, wouldn't happen if we'd budget at or below the number the law now says is the maximum dollar we can spend in any year, this year or for the next nine years. this doesn't have to happen at all. but if it does happen, there's no reason that we should have to be curtailing essential services. the budget control act didn't fail to adequately plan for how you protect these essential services that on other days when the government is not functioning at a full level, there have been many ways found to see that those employees got to work. in fact, according to several letters from the office of management and budget, federal agencies have actually been instructed not to plan for sequestration. a few days ago i was on the floor with a letter from the
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office of management and budget on september -- from september 28 last year, two days before the new spending year starts and the letter says spend your money like the law will not be obeyed. spend your money like the sequestration law will never go into effect, spend your money like the budget control act will be changed and, of course, we come now six -- halfway into the fiscal year and everybody has been spending like the law isn't the law, and suddenly we have these problems that are much bigger than they would have been if we'd have dealt with them over 12 months and we're trying to deal with them over a handful of months. the furlough notices are being made in a sweeping fashion, they're threatening day-to-day services that protect life and safety. now, every service the federal government provides doesn't affect life and safety. i'm not saying that every federal job is subject to this
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amendment or every federal job is critical for everything that happens every day, i recently sent the secretary of -- of agriculture, secretary vilsack, a letter urging him to use his authority to minimize the impact of sequestration as it relates to food safety and inspection services. so-called f.s.i.s., food safety and inspection services. the letter came out right after usda said they'd be laying people off for as many as 15 days in the last four months or so of the spending year, the four months that would end at the end of september. it's estimated that these food inspector furloughs would lead to the closure of nearly 6,300 facilities across america for the day that the food inspector doesn't show up. you know, if you happen to work somewhere where the f.d.a., the
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food and drug administration supervises, they have to show up whenever they want to and they can do that periodically, they can do that as a surprise visit, they can do lots of things but in the facilities that are supervised by the u.s. department of agriculture, that inspector has to be there every day and every minute of every day for those workers in missouri or wisconsin or maryland or anywhere else to work. and i've been to a lot of these facilities was because we have 146 of them in our state, of meat and poultry and eggs. these are hard jobs. these people are not showing up to work every day just because they like to have somewhere to go. and the idea that hundreds of workers, in fact, thousands of workers couldn't work in a given day because the usda inspector doesn't show up -- and don't get paid for that day and their families suffer for that day because we couldn't figure out how to prioritize what was
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necessary for those people to go to work, is unacceptable for me. as a result of these furloughs, the estimate is nearly 500,000 workers would lose $400 million in wages over the course of this month. when that one inspector doesn't show up or the two inspectors don't show up at that plant that day, no matter how many people work there and there may be a thousand people working at that plant that day, none of them can work, none of them get paid. none of them produce the food that a few months later will -- or a few weeks later or a few days later won't show up on the grocery store shelves in the country, and that's a problem, too. but the problem i'm concerned about is the working families that are affected here as well as the working families who will see their meat, poultry, and egg prices go up because the
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supply is that much less than it otherwise would have been. in his response to my letter secretary vilsack claimed "when congress drafted the budget control act of twech directing federal agencies to driewf spending at specified levels, it included no exemption for employees such as fsis inspectors." today i'd like to introduce the amendment that the chairman has objected to, and i will introduce in the next due few days a piece of legislation exactly like the amendment and continue to look for ways to add this amendment to this legislation. but what this amendment would do was give the administration the flexibility that it claims it doesn't have. in doing so, this amendment will ensure essential federal employees continue to provide vital services such as meat inspectors, control tower operators, border security guards, and here's how we do
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it -- in april of 2011, the office of personnel management sent a detailed memo, president obama's 0 office of personnel management -- a detailed memo outlining which federal employees would be exempted from furlough during a potential government shutdown. my belief is that the administration may still have this ability, but if they don't have, i want to give it to them and i want to give it to them exactly like they themselves said it should be applied in april of 2011. those employees are considered essential -- quote -- "to ensure the safety of life and protection of property" -- end quote based on language contained in this act. my amendment would apply identical language used during government shutdown scenarios to the sequester. it defines essential employees as an employee that performs
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work involving the safety of human life or protection of property as determined by the head of the agency. this is the same language not only used in april of 2011, but used in guidance from the clinton administration in preparation for the 1995 government shutdown, the last time when the government really did shut down. these people, madam president, showed up. these people were told to report to work. and if it's good enough for president clinton to tell them to report to work and good enough for president obama in april of 2011 to tell them to report to work, it should be good enough now for the secretary of agriculture and the secretary of transportation and the secretary of homeland security and anyone else where these people are being furloughed to do so. this provision provides agencies with funding flexibility so that essential services are maintained while nonessential employees are furloughed. i think we could do this and with the chairman's help we will
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do this in the committee. i would hope without having furloughs necessary in the future. but this amendment would solve the problem of essential employees that both president clinton and president obama thought was important to deal with the last two times a similar topic game up -- came up. i'd like to also offer a second amendment, which i am not offering so it doesn't need to be objected to. senator pryor and i have an amendment that may approach this at least from the agriculture, rural development and food and drug administration in a different way. he's the chairman and i'm the ranking member of that subcommittee and appropriations. i hope we can find a solution here. and i would notice that there is not a quorum present, madam president. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be suspended, and i ask to address the senate on the pending continuing resolution. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i come to the floor to discuss the continuing resolution that we will vote on perhaps today or tomorrow. this bill is much more than a c.r., much more than a continuing resolution, and includes five separate appropriations bills. our country now faces a $16.6 trillion debt, which is more than $52,000 for every man, woman and child in america. it's time for congress to go back to the business of voting on and passing annual budget resolutions, authorization bills and appropriations bills instead of a huge omnibus appropriations
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bill like the one before us today. this continuing resolution includes numerous examples of egregious pork-barrel projects as well as billions in spending that was never authorized by the appropriate committee and not requested by the administration. the american taxpayer expects more and deserves more than what we're giving them in this bill. one unfortunate example of congress overstepping in this c.r. is the ongoing inclusion of an appropriations rider that prohibits the postal service from moving to a five-day mail delivery. this congressional mandate was put in place in 1984, and it is a roadblock keeping the postal service from transforming the way it delivers mail while still being able to provide universal service. the postal service lost $1.3 billion in the first quarter of this year and recorded a loss of $15.9 billion
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in the fiscal year 2012. so what are we telling them to do? business as usual. with the reality that the postal service will continue with devastating and unsustainable losses, the postmaster general announced last month that the postal service would move to a five-day delivery of mail later this year, which he estimates will cost them $2 billion annually. however, some in congress have decided they know better than the postal service leadership, are moving to prohibit the postal service from modernizing and transforming the way it does business. the congress must accept the fact that the postal service's current way of doing business is no longer viable. we now correspond by email. we now correspond by different methods. it was terrible when the bridle
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and saddle business went out with the advent of the automobile. things and times change. huge percentages of the mail delivered today are what we call junk mail, advertising. it is no longer the primary way with which americans and people in the world, for that matter, communicate. the american public conducts business in a different way even five years ago. we have got to allow the postal service to adapt to changing times in order to have a postal service in the future, and this includes five-day mail delivery. so the postal service loses $1.3 billion in the first year, $15.9 billion last year, and do we come up with a fix for it? do we address the issue? of course not. of course not. there's nothing in this bill that would change that debt. there's nothing in this legislation that fixes the broken postal service, but there is a prohibition from them going
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to five-day mail delivery, which is -- which would save another $2 billion. now, you have still got $13.9 billion left over if it's like last year. so here we are telling the postal service they can't go to five-day delivery, but we have no fix for this problem. and who picks up the tab? obviously, eventually it is the american taxpayer. no wonder, no wonder they view us with certain disdain. in addition to this rider, the bill includes pork-barrel spending for programs such as -- and i'm not making them up. here we are with this debt of $16.6 trillion, and we're going to spend $65 million for the pacific coast salmon restoration for states, including the state of nevada. i'm not making that up.
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$65 million for the pacific coast salmon 993 $993,000 in grants to dig private wells for private property owners. $10 billion for the u.s. department of agriculture's high energy cost grants programs that go to subsidize electricity bills in two states -- alaska and hawaii. alaska and hawaii. $5 million -- $5.9 million for the usda's economic impact initiative grants.
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now, the economic impact initiative grants have become slush funds for local governments to do such things as rehab an exercise room, renovate a museum on the pacific island of palau, and buy kitchen equipment for city government offices. now i'd like to talk a bit about defense spending. and this is probably the most painful part of my comments. and i will explain why later on. defense spending includes over $6 billion, $6 billion in unrequested or unauthorized funding for programs for the department of defense. at a time when the department of defense is facing the impact of sequestration on top of the $487 billion in cuts directed by the president, we can't afford to spend a single taxpayer dollar on programs that are not a priority for the defense department and our national security.
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the following things are beginning to happen now that the department of defense is under sequestration. the navy was unable to freeway deploy the u.s.a. truman, an aircraft carrier, to the middle east at a time when the centrifuges in tehran are spinning. 80% of the army's nondeploying brigades have reduced readiness. army base operations have been reduced 30%. the navy has is reducing flying hours on deployed carriers in the middle east by 55%. and shut down all flying for four of the nine carrier air wings. if funding is reare stored, returning to normal readiness will take nine to 12 months and cost two to three times as much. the air force is delaying planned acquisition of satellites and aircraft including js-f and the 130-j which will increase the future
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cost of the systems and the command doesn't of the united states narn corps has said by the end of this year more than 50% of my combat units will be below minimal acceptable levels of readiness for deployment to combat. my friends, and here we are, here we are spending money on this kind of junk, on this kind of pork while the dmawntd of the -- commandant of the marine corps says 50% of the troops will be below minimal levels? what kind of parallel universe are we resigning in? instead of trying to remedy these drastic reductions to our military strength the appropriators are willing to overstep the authorizers and defense leadership and provide increased funding for nonessential programs that are clearly not a national security priority. the armed services committee went to great lengths last year
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to authorize defense spending for the most critical national security requirements as proposed by the president and defense leadership. last week i offered an amendment which was approved, by a very narrow margin, that removed funding in the bill for civilian infrastructure -- not military infrastructure, mind you, civilian infrastructure for guam. this earmark for guam directly contravened the explicit direction provided by the armed services committee. estimate and the -- senate and the house of representatives conference report on the fiscal year 2013 national defense authorization act and in my opinion is a clear example of the abuse of the appropriations process. and i say to my colleagues, we're not going to stand for it. i say to my friends on the appropriations committee, we will not stand for this. funding for the star base program, this nice to have but not necessary to have program
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will receive $5 million. according to its web site, star base focuses on elementary students, primarily fifth graders. the program's goal is to motivate these students to explore science, technology, engineering and math as they continue their education. military volunteers apply abstract principles to real-world situations by leading tours and giving lectures on the use of stem in different settings and careers. i'm sure that's a nice thing to happen. i'm sure that star base is -- it's nice that fifth graders are able to hear from members of the military. meanwhile, we can't deploy an aircraft carrier. with a war going on, a budget crisis at our doorstep, this is how we elect to spend our taxpayers' defense money. another example is $11.3 million in increase for the civil air
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program or c.a.p. c.a.p. is a volunteer organization that provides aerospace education to young people, runs a junior cadet program and assists when possible to providing emergency services. its members are hard working, we are grateful for their volunteerism. this year as in the past, the senate armed services committee authorized the president's request for c.a.p. funding. however, c.a.p. is an auxiliary and this should not operate to the detriment of the united states air force. to succeed at their weapons, the air force must be able to fly and train at locations like luke air force base, which is threatened with reduced flight hours and the closure of two local control towers that could impact air safety around the base. by diverting additional funds, not the primary funding but additional funds to the civil air patrol from air force operations and maintenance accounts, which pay for the training and flight operations that keep the air force in the
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sky, we're imposing greater risk on our men and women in uniform. the bill includes $154 million for army, navy and air force -- quote -- "alternative energy research" -- unquote initiatives. this type of research has yielded such shining examples as the department of the navy's purchase of 450,000 gallons of alternative fuel for $12 million, which is over $26 per gallon. now, alternate energy research might be necessary but shouldn't the department of energy do it? why should the department of defense do it when we can't fly our airplanes? section 1822 prohibits the retirement of the c-23 sherpa aircraft. the army is currently retiring or divesting the remainder of its fleet of old limited duty c-23's, all of which are flown
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by the army national guard. the army neither wants nor needs these aircraft. the air force neither wants nor needs these aircraft. last year, congress granted the army authority to give these planes to any state governor who wanted them, and guess what? no takers. now we prevent the army from retiring these limited utility aircraft. and another provision provides $15 million for a -- quote -- "incentive program that directs the department of defense to overpay on contracts by an additional 5% if the contractor is a native hawaiian-owned company. now, if there is ever, if there is ever an example of the special interest pork-barrel spending that goes on in this body and infuriates the american people, it's this. $15 million of your -- of
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americans' tax dollars is going to any native hawaiian-owned company to give them an additional 5% if they are a contractor. here we are spending all our time, trying to eliminate the waste and inefficiency in defense contracting, and we are now spending $15 million to overpay them if, if they are from a native hawaiian-owned company. it will make it easier for the department of defense to enter into no big contracts for studies, analysts, analysis and unsolicited proposals. the language in the bill makes it ripe for wasteful spending and earmarks for pet projects. for example, department of defense may eliminate competition and use a no bid contract for a -- quote -- "product of original thinking and was submitted in confidence
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by one source. is there ever an example of how pork-barrel and earmark spending begins for a contract -- for a product of original thinking and was submitted in confidence by one source. another section requires the secretary of the air force to continue procuring c-27-j spartan aircraft, despite the air force's intent to end production and divest these aircraft. $24 million to continue development on a.c.s., which was a canceled army reconnaissance aircraft program. another goody for defense contractors. there's a recurring provision in the bill that allows alaska native corporations to circumvent the rules of the office of management and budget that would otherwise require them to follow an open and fair competition process in order to obtain department of defense
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contracts. the department of defense has a history of awarding billions of dollars in large source no bid contracts to alaskan corporations beautiful. this matter has been well documented by the senate subcommittee on contracting, the inspector generals of the department of defense and the small business administration and "the washington post" ran a series on the alaskan native corporation contracting. last year, the government accounting office found that the department of defense expeditiously awarded two $500 million ten-year contracts using the same provision in a past appropriations bill. several of us in the armed services committee and the senate homeland security and government affairs committee have been trying to ensure that contracts to a.n.c.'s undergo extra scrutiny. it doesn't help that this bill is working against the american
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taxpayer, while congress should be working to make sure the department of defense acquires what it truly needs as economically as possible through competition. there is $48 million in funding for the defense department to do research dealing with parkinson's disease, neurofibrometosis and hiv-aids research. this research is important. it has no place in a department of defense bill. it should be funded by the national institute of health, not the department of defense. madam president, i ask unanimous consent for a long list of unspecified and unauthorized and unnecessary and wasteful pork be included in the record at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: it's -- it's disgraceful, and i see my colleague from texas is waiting to talk. but this is absolutely unbelievable. and all of this long list, of billions of dollars of
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spending, can only be considered as how obscene it is by listening to what the impacts of sequester has already been on the men and women in the military. sequester so far -- so far -- canceled four brigade exercises, four brigade exercises of training of the army has been canceled. it reduces the base operations, the normal day-to-day operations of the base by 30%. cancels half the year of helicopter and ground vehicle maintenance. stops postwar repair pair of 1,300 vehicles and 17,000 webs weapons. it reduces the readiness of the army's nondeployable brigades, stops tuition assistance for all active and reserve men and women in the army. in the navy, cancels several submarine deployments, reduces flying hours in the middle east
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where tensions have never been higher by 55% and believe me, my friends, unless they are able to operate and train, they are not safe and they're not capable. reduces the western pacific deployed operations by 35%, nondeployed pacific ships lose 40% of their steaming days. reduces middle east, atlantic, and mediterranean ballistic missile defense patrols, shuts down all flying, all flying of four of our nine carrier air wings has been shut down. nine to 12 months to re -- it will take mine to 12 months to restore normal readiness at two to three times the cost, cuts all major exercises going on, defers repairs, the u.s.a. dproiment driew trueman deployment to the middle east delayed indefinitely, the eisenhower carrier deployment extended indefinitely, the u.s.a. nimitz and bush carrier strike force will not be ready
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for scheduled deployments. the air force, likely to prevent the air force ability to achieve the 2017 goal of being fully auditable, over 120 projects at 140 installations across the air force are canceled, it affects runway repairs, delays planned acquisition of satellites and aircraft, reduces flying hours for cargo, fighter, and bomber aircrafts and the marine corps, marine corps, is unable to complete the rebalancing of marine corps forces to the asian pacific region, will cause 55% of the marine corps aviation squadrons will fall below ready for deployment. over half the squadrons in the united states marine corps are not ready to deploy. will not planned reset of equipment returning from overseas, depot maintenance
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will be reduced and reducing readiness of nondeployed forces, facilities sustainment will be funded at 71% of the requirement, but most importantly -- maybe members of congress don't have a lot of credibility and maybe that's understandable. i'll leave that up to the american people to judge. i do think, i do think we respect the dmawntd of the -- command doesn't of the marine -- congressman doesn't of the marine -- commandand of the marine corps, more than 50% of my combat units will be below minimal acceptable lefltion of readiness for deployment to combat. over the weekend there was a gathering here in our nation's -- in the washington, d.c. area of a group of conservative americans and members of the republican party and references were made to
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people who were too old and moss covered and that we need new and fresh individuals and ideas and thoughts. and i agree with all of those, every bit of those recommendations and comments that were made. but there is a little bit of benefit of being around for a while. and my friends, i'll tell you right now, i've seen this movie before. i saw it after the vietnam war. the vietnam war was over, americans were war weary, we had been driven apart in a way almost unprecedented in our history, certainly maybe as far back as our civil war. america was torn apart, and the first casualty of that was our military. our military was cut and cut and cut and cut to the point where in 1979, i believe it was, the chief of staff of the united
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states army came before congress and testified and it was kind of a seminal moment. he told the congress and the american people that we had a quote hollow army. it would be unable to defend this nation adequately. it also happened to quinn size when a group of brave americans were being held hostage in the embassy in tehran made famous by a fantastic movie called "argo." and along came boo a guy called ronald reagan who promise -- came a guy named ronald reagan who promised we would restore our capabilities that would make america the leader in the world again and a simple phrase called "peace through strength." i want to tell you what we're doing with this sequestration. what we're doing with sequestration is an exact replay of what we did after the vietnam war. i understand that the american people are war weary. i understand that are savings that can be made and large
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savings made in our defense spending. but to do it like this puts the security of this nation in jeopardy. we are blessed with the finest military ever in our history and i say that with great respect to my predecessors who fought in previous wars. our own -- all-volunteer force is the best this nation has ever produced. it's the best of america. we all know that. and you know what's happening to them right now? i'll tell you what's happening to them right now because i talk to them all the time. they don't know where their next deployment is going to be. they don't know if they're going to be adequately trained to defend this nation of islam or not. they've lost confidence, they have lost confidence in the leadership of this nation and the good ones, the really good ones, are getting out. they're not going to stay in a military in which they believe there is no future and they're unable to defend this nation and i tell my colleagues that, ask
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anyone in the military today. junior officer, senior officer, senior enlisted person, and they'll tell you they are disgusted with what's going on. and the least we can do is give them the ability to train and to operate to defend this nation, and this sequester and this legislation we are considering is a direct contradiction to everything we have said and promised them that we would do for them when they agreed as a volunteer to serve this nation. and it's a shameful period in the history of this congress, the presidency, and the way we have gone about this business. and we will and maybe very likely pay a very, very heavy price. madam president, i yield the floor.
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mr. cornyn: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican whip. mr. wiern mr. cornyn: madam president,, president obama recently told the speaker of the house of representatives that we don't have a spending problem. last week, he told abc news that we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of the debt. these comments indicate that the president just does not seem to understand the negative impact of $16.5 trillion in debt on our economy. for that matter, based on their new budget, senate democrats don't seem to get it, either. not only would the budget that was passed out of the senate budget committee last week raise
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taxes by an additional $1.5 trillion, i it would also increase federal spending by roughly 60% and increase our national debt by $7.3 trillion. i should say as bad as it is, that budget that was passed out of the budget committee last week represents progress. now, how could i possibly say that? well, because it's been 1,419 days since the senate has passed a budget under democrat control. so i guess you could say passing a budget out of the budget committee and having it come to the floor this week represents progress. but i say that democrats have raised taxes again or proposed an additional revenue increase in this budget because they already did so previously by a
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trillion dollars with the passage of obamacare. obamacare is unique in my experience, the legislation that we passed here, passed in 2009 and early 2010. many of its provisions have yet to even kick in yet. and some of the provisions, including the tax increases, won't kick in until 2014. but, as i said, it will raise taxes an additional trillion dollars. and earlier this year, we know as a result of the fiscal cliff vote the end of december, that there was an additional $62 $620 billion tax increase at that time. but apparently that wasn't enough. but there's an porn lesso -- thn important lesson here. for those who believe that bigger, more government is the answer to every problem that confronts our country, more
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taxes is never enough. in fact, the leviathan is insatiable. this debate comes down to a basic philosophy in how we should govern ourselves as a free people. our friends on the other side of the aisle seem to be focused incessantly on government and growing government in hopes that somehow if the federal government spends enough money, even if it's borrowed from our creditors, that some of that might trickle down into the private-sector economy. meanwhile, this side of the aisle fundamentally believes that it is the job creation in the private sector which helps grow the economy and create opportunity and prosperity. and that means looking for ways to rein in wasteful washington spending to a more sustainable level so that it stops hampering private-sector investment and job creation.
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i'd like to ask president obama, if we don't have a spending problem, why is it that we've accumulated more than $6 trillion in additional debt since you took office just about four years ago. if we don't have a spending problem, why is it that we still have a hundred trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities because of programs that literally are not funded into the future? and why is it we are spending today more than $200 billion a year on interest payments on the debt? because you can't just borrow $16.5 trillion interest free, even at low interest rates that we have today, we are paying $200 billion a year on interest on that debt. is the president really arguing that we should postpone major spending cuts and major entitlement reforms until we've experienced a full-blown
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european-style meltdown? well, i hope not. and i really don't think so, because that would be grossly irresponsible. but i'd like to remind the president and his allies that after $4 trillion deficits -- that would be the annual difference between what we bring in and what the government spends -- four in a row more than a trillion dollars -- after more than $1.6 trillion in tax increases, after hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new regulations, our country is mired, we are mired in the longest period of high unemployment since the great depression. that is a direct consequence of this huge debt and our creditors' lack of confidence that we're actually serious about dealing with it. indeed, many workers have simply given up on finding work, which is one reason why our labor
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force participation rate is now at a 32-year low. unemployment's almost 8% but that doesn't take into account the millions of people who have simply given up looking for work after a long period of unemployment. since june 2009, when the recession officially ended, median household income has fallen by more than $2,400. so instead of treading water, the average american family is seeing their buying power decrease by more than $ 2,400 since 2009. at the same time, they're finding not only are there taxes going up with the return of the payroll taxes to its previous level, but they're finding their costs for gasoline, for food, for other essentials of life are going up. does this really sound like an economy that can stand another massive tax increase?
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i don't think so. president obama said to abc news that we shouldn't try to balance the budget just for the sake of balance. well, once again the president was knocking down a strawman. we weren't talking about doing something symbolic. we were talking about doing something real, something that would benefit the economy and job growth and getting people back to work instead of dependency which i know none of them want. we see more and more people on food stamps, more people receiving disability benefits, more people on unemployment. people who would like to get back to work and to regain their sense of dignity and self-sufficiency but because the economy is growing so slowly, they can't do that. we believe that balancing the budget and reducing our debt burden is absolutely essential
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to long-term economic growth. long-term economic growth which creates more jobs, more taxpayers, people actually putting money into the treasury to help us balance our deficits. we also believe that balancing the budget and reducing our debt burden is essential to saving important programs that our seniors depend upon, like medicare and social security. if we want to remain an opportunity society with high levels of upward mobility, something we call "the american dream," we must act sooner rather than later. the longer we delay, the more expensive and the more difficult the challenge of fixing these problems will become. again, the basic question is: are we more concerned with growing the job-creating private sector or with growing the federal government?
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the budget passed out of the senate budget committee along a party-line vote -- strictly with the votes of democrats -- last week makes it clear they're ultimately more concerned with growing the federal government. we'll have a chance on the floor of the senate this week for democrats and republicans alike to offer amendments and get votes which i think will provide a lot of clarity to the contrasting approaches of the major political parties. but we have simply had the weakest economic recovery since the great depression, and so it's now time to do something different. i can't recall who the original author was of the saying that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and to expect different outcomes. well, if that's the definition of insanity, that's what's happening near the unite here id
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states congress. it's time to put economic growth ahead of government growth. madam president, i yield the floor and i'd suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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ms. mikulski: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: madam president, i ask that the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: madam president, i want to bring my colleagues up to date on where we are. right now we're -- the vice chairman of the committee, senator shelby, and i are in conversation on what are some possible agreement we could make on the outstanding amendments, to get them down to a manageable list. we're waiting for his arrival. we've been in -- from the airport. we've been in communication and it's been constructive. i -- and at such time senator shelby arrives, we look forward to perhaps presenting something to the senate that would give us a clear path and specific
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amendments forward. so while we're waiting for that, though, madam president, i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business about some very sad events that have occurred in maryland. the presiding officer: without objection, please proceed. ms. mikulski: mr. president -- madam president, over the weekend, we in maryland were saddened by three separate but yet poignant deaths. we had one of our very own, a wonderful woman in the united states military, who died in afghanistan, captain sarah cullen. also, we had the occasion where another young woman of enormous promise, a woman named -- excuse me, i've got these sinuses -- christina quickly, wh quigley, e lacrosse coach at seton hill,
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was killed in an awful, awful bus crash. and then also someone beloved to so many of us, larry symms, who was the head of the watermen's association for many in other parts of the country they're called fischermen association or lobsters. but if you enjoyed maryland crabs and oysters, they were harvested by the men who sail the chesapeake bay and open waters and the head of their association was larry symms. i'd like to just talk briefly about all three. first, sarah -- i'd like to speak about captain cullen, who died on march 11 in a crash of a uh-60 black helicopter in the kandahar province in afghanistan. it was during a training mission in a very, very heavy rain. she was assigned to headquarters and a combat aviation brigade. a wonderful woman of enormous
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promise. she was a graduate of the united states military academy. she graduated from west point in 2007. and she just got married very recently to another pilot, chris cullen. and i just wanted to commend o on -- that all of we in maryland mourn the loss of captain cull cullen. she was well-known and well regarded here locally at a community in carroll county. she went to a school called liberty high school -- liberty high school, isn't that a great name? -- and she just wanted to ggo to best point. she was not nominated by me but by another member of the maryland delegation. we try to share and maximize, like i know the gentlelady from hawaii does. we have so much talent in
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maryland, we don't want to waste one nomination. so we all work together. and by all accounts, captain quigley was just on her way to being an outstanding officer and a deep commitment. friends and family of her in eldersberg, a community in carroll county where she grew up, said she was dearly loved. she was always looking for the next adventure, the next challenge, and the next task of being a better person, said katie owens, her best friend. nato told us about the crash last week and i was just notified about this over the weekend. so in behalf of all of maryland, we just wanted to extend our condolences to her husband and to her family, to her parents, who obviously gave her a great home and saw to her education. it's a sad day when we lose
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somebody in afghanistan and it's a very sad day for those of us in -- in maryland. and, madam president, we also had another wonderful woman, christina quigley. christina quigley grew up in a community called dundalk, a suburb outside of baltimore city. she went to dundalk high school, to duquesne university, and then because she was great -- a great athlete, shoul she had a sportsr both at duquesne and then fulfilled a dream of hers to be a coach. on a roadtrip, there was a terrible, terrible accident on the pennsylvania turnpike.
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the bus went off, and she was obviously sitting in a place where she was -- she received one of the first impacts. she was only 30 years old. she had been recently married -- well, not recently married. she had been married. she has another child, and she was six months' pregnant -- in her pregnancy, and that of the un-- the unborn was also terminated. this is really sad. there were many who were injured on this bus. several were from maryland who were also members of the team and the assistant coach is also from maryland. the assistant coach, kristin santafalopi, is also from maryland. this happened in cumberland county. we're now waiting the details. but it is a very sad day that
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this promising young woman with the world ahead of her, who by all accounts was not only an athlete and who could teach athletics but that she was an inspirational leader that girls -- you know, they're young women -- just loved her and, you know, la crosse is a tough sport to play, and there they were. they were on their way to a great game. seton hill is a great college, a catholic college. there was excitement on the bus, anticipation. and we're sorry about this terrible, terrible tragedy. and, again, here we extend our heartfelt condolences to her parents, who live in baltimore, and to her husband, who lives in the seton hill campus. in addition to that, because each one had a story, was my own pal and good friend larry symms.
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larry symms, as i said, was a great marylander. his official name was lawrence symms sr., and he passed away thursday, a father of three children, five stepchildren, 12 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and a host of people up and down the chesapeake bay -- if you were involved in cleaning up the bay or making sure that the people live alongside the bay had jobs, you knew -- you knew larry symms. he was a true champion. and, for me, he was a wonderful advisor, again be, on how we could clean up the bay but ensure that our watermen could continue to work on the bay. we've been playinged over the last -- we have been plagued over the last cephal years --
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last several years. our watermen are the wild west guys. they don't like rules and regs. they're not rules and regs kind of guys. but they also knew that we needed to be able a to save what we did. for decades, larry saw the declining health of the bay. fewer fishing crabs and barro bn reefs. he did not have an easy job, but i tell you, he aprofessed it with such tenacity, such persistence, and such a way where he spoke with humility about what god had given us, this spectacular chesapeake bay, and yet how we had to preserve it and the jobs. he became an unlikely spokesman, because he said, i'm not much
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for words, you know me shal -- d know him, and he did speak eloquently for meese men and --n and women. i worked hard for the watermen and how we could help them clean up the bay. senator car continue cardin andf the house delegation and scientists studying this, to make sure we could preserve the livelihood and heritage of the bay and the men who work on it. fortunately, working together, we were able to do many wonderful things together. we can only do it because larry symms was such a great advocate. we're going to miss him. i just -- i just can't believe that larry won't be with us anymore. when i first came to the senate -- now over 20-some years ago -- larry was one of the first to reach out to me to help me learn the ways of the water america's learn what they were up against
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-- tough weather, harsh working conditions, escalate being fuel prices -- because our men and women go out on those waters using boats that consume diesel oil. and again the decline in species. but working together, we were able to accomplish a lot. so i just want to say to his family, thank you for lending larry to us, because he spent many times at government meetings, regulatory hearings, sitting with me at fishermen's inn or pulling the watermen around for a round table so we could talk things over to preserve their jobs and yet have that smart science and smart resmghts and we want to thank larry for all of the time that he put in taking a very green senator -- and green, i don't even only in the environmental sense, but as a new senator --
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and helping me learn the way of the people. because we want to preserve their way of life. it's just a sad day. it is a sayre sa sad day for al. so when memorial day comes and the restaurants open and piles of maryland crabs start coming in, surf with the surf crabs and steam crabs and so on, i want to say this: larry, wherever you are, whenever i grab a claw, i will be thinking of you and that you will meant in terms of what we did to be able to create jobs, clean up the environment, and be able to keep our way of life going on the chesapeake bay. so, madam president, you can see why today we just had three great marylanders, each doing a very different thing, but what i'm so proud of with, you know, captain cullen, larry symms,
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christina quigley is that each in their own way was trying to make a difference, wanted to protect america. the other was to protect jobs and a way of life on the chesapeake bay. and the other to inspire young women not only to be ready for the playing fields of la crosse but for the playing fields of life. all three, in her own way, were inspirational leaders. all three, in their own way, made a difference in the lives of the people that they came in touch w i just want to say, god bless them and god treat them kindly and may their souls rest in peace. madam president, i yield the floor.
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ms. mikulski: madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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